A quartet of Abbotsford judo athletes excelled on the national stage last month.
Participating on Team BC at the Judo Canadian Championships in Calgary from May 12 to 15, Abbotsford Judo Club members Leo Goldberg, Mitchell Wolfe, Simren Brar and Isabelle Harris all took home medals.
Harris won gold in the U16 girls 63 kilogram division, Goldberg claimed silver in the U18 boys 66 kg division, Wolfe won bronze in the U18 73 kg division and Brar earned bronze in the U21 60 kg division.
Harris won all three of her matches to clinch top spot, and the Grade 9 student said she has made a smooth transition from the world of ballet to the judo mats.
“I’ve been in judo for four years now,” she said, noting she followed her older brothers into the sport. “I enjoy everything about it.”
Wolfe, who has participated in the sport for eight years, said an untimely penalty cost him a chance at gold. The St. John Brebeuf student won silver two years ago at nationals, and he said he hopes to return to the podium again next year. Wolfe said the sport continues to challenge him.
“I came to a summer camp here one year and just really enjoyed and kept coming back,” he said. “I started coming full-time that fall and it’s fun and good exercise.”
AJC instructor Layton Keely said all the hard work of the four students paid off at nationals.
“Part me of wasn’t very surprised at how well our students did because they’ve been working very hard,” he said. “They put in that extra effort and they all earned it.”
Keely said the AJC sent a total of 14 athletes to nationals, with many of the other competitors young and likely to continue to contend at nationals in the coming years.
This year is also an important one for the club, as the AJC celebrates its 35th anniversary this summer. The physical building located on Maclure Road was constructed in 1988, but head instructor Tokue Suda has been teaching locally since 1981. The AJC will host several events over the summer, including barbecues and a visit from judo athletes from Suda’s native Japan.
Keely said anyone and everyone can participate in judo, and the first class is always free. He added that there are summer camps for youth this summer, and classes for all ages.
For more information on the AJC, visit abbotsfordjudo.com.