• Nick Zacharias

Olympic Judo trio hit the dojo in Vaudreuil-Dorion


PHOTO BY NICK ZACHARIAS

Four-time Olympian Sensei Nicolas Gill takes a willing victim for a ride on Tuesday night in Vaudreuil-Dorion

Tuesday night, April 9 was an exciting one for the Judo Club at the Centre Multisports in Vaudreuil-Dorion, which saw the arrival of some Olympic guests to help train and inspire members young and old. At the invitation of Sensei Carolyne Lepage, herself a black belt and two-time Olympian who trains and coaches every week at the club, students were treated to a visit from Olympic veteran and High-Performance Manager for Judo Canada Marie-Hélène Chisholm, as well as four-time Olympian (and bronze and silver medalist, at the Barcelona and Sydney Olympics, respectively) Nicolas Gill.

The evening began with a moving introduction by Sensei Michel Proulx, coach and technical director of the club. Sensei Michel gave highlights from the careers of the honoured guests and set the stage for what was in store for the 40 or so participants and their parents who came for the event.

“It is a great honour to have these accomplished guests with us tonight, who give so generously of their time to inspire us and motivate us with their presence and their experience,” said Sensei Michel.

After a busy and animated warm-up, Sensei Marie-Hélène demonstrated a couple of dynamic ground maneuvers to the impressionable young judokas on the mat (sorry, tatami). Her coaching record, as well as the fact that she has over 60 medals under her belt from national, international and world competitions, was clearly evident as the students paired up eagerly to put her directions into practice.

Next up was Sensei Nicolas Gill. Not only is he the current National Head Coach for Judo Canada, Gill is also a 7th Dan black belt. For perspective, the highest possible belt ranking is 10th Dan, an honour which the Kodokan Judo Institute of Japan has seen fit to confer only 15 times since its founding in 1882. All eyes were on him as he demonstrated an upright throw on a brave brown belt who volunteered. After careful instruction and with much hands-on attention from all the coaches in attendance, the room became a flurry of activity as students gleefully flipped one another every which way for several minutes of floor-slapping fun.

At the conclusion of the evening, 14 lucky judokas were given the treat of having their new belts handed to them by Gill himself as their reward for months of effort in achieving the next level in their training. After that the Olympians posed for photos with the coaches and students alike, and Gill even produced his Olympic medals for the students to admire.

The Judo Club meets Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Centre Multisports in Vaudreuil-Dorion from September to May, and has members participating regularly in regional and provincial tournaments, but last Tuesday’s meeting in particular was one they will not soon forget.

See our Facebook page for more photos.

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