Abbotsford athletes storm podium at judo nationals

Jeff Swadden, Mitchell Wolfe and Leo Goldberg (from left) were among the local medalists at judo nationals. - Dan Kinvig
Jeff Swadden, Mitchell Wolfe and Leo Goldberg (from left) were among the local medalists at judo nationals.
— image credit: Dan Kinvig

Abbotsford was well-represented at the recent Canadian national judo championships in Saguenay, Que., as five locals battled their way to the podium.

Brandon Jobb and Scott McGrandle led the charge, both winning their respective weight classes in the senior men’s division.

McGrandle, who trains out of the National Training Centre (NTC) in Montreal, won his third national title in the -81 kilogram category, rolling through the draw in impressive fashion.

Fellow NTC member Jobb crushed the competition at -90 kg, and was named the most outstanding male athlete of the tournament.

“He’s dominating his weight class,” Abbotsford Judo Club instructor Tokue Suda said of Jobb, who has been at the NTC since September 2013. “The longest match for him was 30 seconds, and it’s a five-minute match situation.

“He’s improved tremendously. The last time I saw him at a tournament was November last year, and since then . . . Once he gets the grip, he can throw anybody. Not too many people can do it.”

Three younger athletes from the Abbotsford Judo Club also registered podium finishes.

Leo Goldberg brought home silver medals in the -55 kg class in two age divisions – U16 and U18. It’s an impressive accomplishment, but Goldberg was the reigning champ in the U16 category and was disappointed he didn’t defend that title.

“The U18 medal was way better than my expectation – I was really happy about that,” he said. “But the U16 one . . . was a bit of a disappointment and left a bitter taste in my mouth.

“It’s really motivating me (at practice) – I’m going to work 10 times harder.”

Mitchell Wolfe won his first national medal, a silver in the U16 -60 kg class. In the final, he thought he’d won, but was disqualified on a penalty after stepping out of bounds.

“It feels pretty good,” he said. “It was a good fight anyway, I lost it to a good guy.”

Jeff Swadden took bronze in the U21 +100 kg category for the second straight year. He’d been aiming to upgrade the colour of his medal this time around, but suffered a couple of tough losses.

“I think I definitely could have gotten gold, and I was close,” he said.

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