A local judoka has recently returned from a gruelling two weeks of international competitions and training camps across the southern border, including two fourth-place finishes.
Paul Kane High School student and brown belt Tayven Tremblay, 17, competed in both the U.S. Open Judo Championships, and the United States Judo Federation's Grassroots Judo event in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, between July 21 and 31.
Tremblay didn't fare as well in the U.S. Open as he did at the Grassroots Judo competition. Tremblay was eliminated from medal contention in his third Men Cadets 55-kilogram weight class fight, losing to Muslim Mai of Kyrgyzstan. Mai would go on to win bronze in the weight class.
For the Grassroots Judo competition Tremblay earned two fourth-place finishes in two separate weight classes. In the International Judo Federation (IJF) junior, or 21 and under, 60-kilogram weight class, Tremblay defeated Ethan Duke from Atlanta and Sterling Fontaign from Idaho before a loss to Atlanta's Justin Mata guaranteed Tremblay fourth place.
In the men's cadets 55-kilogram class in the Grassroots Judo event, Tremblay finished in fourth after a loss to Judo Alberta teammate Loic Beaton.
Talking through pain and swelling after undergoing surgery to remove wisdom teeth three days prior, Tremblay said Aug. 5 that he felt slightly disappointed with his results, but he knew the competition was going to be stiff.
"There was also a lot of people from different countries in Europe and South America, and some from Mongolia, which made the judo a lot different,” Tremblay said. “There was a lot more drop techniques, and they had a lot stronger gripping than in Canada.”
Tremblay had little time for sightseeing while in Florida; when he and the other Judo Alberta athletes weren't competing, they were being taught by some of the world's most successful judoka, including Jimmy Pedro, the two-time Olympic judo bronze medalist.
“They had eight or nine Olympians there and they did a little bit of technical [training], but most of the time it was [up to 12] randori sessions that were four minutes each," Tremblay said.
A randori session is a drill where practitioners focus on repeatedly throwing their training partner to the mat.
Throw to Tashkent
Since returning home Tremblay has been patiently waiting for the results of another judo competition: a virtual video submission contest. The grand prize, awarded to the top four submissions as voted by the public, is an all-expenses-paid trip to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where the 2022 World Judo Championships are being held in October.
“This competition that the IJF puts on is essentially anyone can submit a video of what they described in their contest rules as the throw that would get you to Tashkent," Tremblay's father Jared explained.
If Tremblay wins, he will have front-row seats to watch, meet, and greet some of his heroes, such as Japanese judoka Shohei Ono and Teddy Riner from Guadeloupe, a Caribbean region governed by France.
The competition winners were scheduled to be announced by 6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 8, but the IJF didn't make the announcement prior to The Gazette's print deadline on Tuesday afternoon.
By the time competition voting closed on Aug. 5, Tremblay's video was the most viewed submission.
"[Ono and Riner] have won multiple gold medals in the Olympics and I just really like their fighting style because their judo is really clean,” Tremblay said. “I try to make [my style] very technical and clean just because I’ve seen those two compete and try to replicate what they do.”
"To be able to go to an event like that on the other side of the world and get back-stage access and autographs and meet-and-greets and to see all these people [is] a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Jared added.
Tremblay's video submission was an uchi mata throw he did during a match at the 2021 Quebec Open, where he won bronze in the U18 men's 55-kilogram division.
When asked about his future goals, Tremblay said he hopes to earn his first-degree black belt later this year, and qualify for the 2023 Canada Winter Games being held in Prince Edward Island.
"I eventually want to represent Canada at the Olympics,” he said.