Kyle Crowell wasted no time repeating at the Canadian Open Judo Championships.
The level one black belt from Morinville mowed down the competition without a loss in five fights in the veteran group one (30 to 35) minus-81 kilogram division at last month’s competition at the Butterdome.
“The entire tournament I think I spent less than a minute on the mat. My father and mother were there for the first couple of fights and they said my first fight was eight seconds,” said Crowell, a St. Albert Judo Club instructor. “It’s get it in, get it done, get out.”
The fifth nationals in a row for Crowell after a brief hiatus was also the fourth in a row in the veteran (30-plus) category.
“I’ve competed in numerous nationals at a younger age, but it seems like everyone takes a couple of years off when growing up and becoming an adult,” said the Alberta correctional peace officer. “I made the mistake the first year of going and fighting seniors (at 81 kg.) when I was 30 when I should’ve fought veterans and that was back at Montréal five years ago. I had a fairly decent groin tear there and I would’ve probably placed in the top medal category, but I was unable to so from that tournament on at nationals it’s veterans only. I can’t go and get hurt on a regular basis because I have a job I have to go to.”
The medal haul as a veteran is now three gold and one bronze.
“Two years ago I fell on my face in one of the fights and ended up with a third instead of a gold,” Crowell said. “To be top three since coming back in the last five years is definitely an accomplishment. I have been fairly lucky that way.”
The goal at this year’s nationals was simple: “I wanted to successfully defend my championship,” Crowell said. “It was more of a preparation thing to be able to get the medal.”
There were basically no surprises for Crowell in the round robin draw.
“The other guys that were in the competition I see on a semi-regular basis at least at nationals every year for the last couple of years. We basically know how everybody fights, but the one gentleman I fought for gold or for silver for the final position is a guy I've never met before and that's always interesting to try and figure their stance and what they’re going to do and then how you’re going to make that work for your style and not for his. Actually, it’s probably the most fun part. Going in fighting the same guys all the time gets a little bit monotonous,” said the W.P. Wagner High School alumnus.
Crowell, 35, was asked to provide a scouting report on his strengths as a judoka.
“In strictly just listening to what other people say, Mark (Hicks), my sensei, he likes to call me the Energizer Bunny. I go and go and go and go and go and go to the point where, as he would describe it, to the point where the other guy can’t go anymore and then once he makes a mistake, or he is tired and he can't stay at my level, then I can catch him, which I used to do on a regular basis. I would like to say that was not a concern this year because I think I spent less than a minute on the mat the entire competition so there was no need for that aerobics side. I was able to walk in and was able to throw everybody fairly quickly which was really good.”
Crowell describes himself as an “above average novice” in the sport he started to embrace around the age of eight at the Tokugawa Judo Club when it was originally located near W.P. Wagner.
“I love the fact that it's full contact and short of the ref there is really no one to answer to short of the other guy on the other side of the mat,” said the black belt for about four years. “The other thing I love about judo is when I lose a match, yeah, I can blame it on the ref, I try not to, we all have those days, but there is really no one to blame but myself. I was up there, he made a better move and I made a worse move. The onus is on me 100 per cent.”
Crowell has been with the St. Albert Judo Club for five years and has taken on a leadership role with aspiring newcomers.
“I’m enjoying watching a couple of younger guys and younger girls come up and learn what a higher level of competition really means,” he said. “The coaching side of things I'm starting to enjoy more. I try and help out and throw in my two cents when I'm available.”