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Three Island clubs preparing together
Mikey Perry, Charlottetown club, and Lydia Enman, Lennox Island, hold the Team P.E.I. banner for fellow provincial team members who will be attending Judo nationals May 24 to 28 in Calgary. Standing from left are Turner Moore, Lennox Island; Kent Hardy, Charlottetown coach; Robin Enman, Lennox Island and provincial team head coach; Loren Enman, Lennox Island; Chris Townsend, Summerside coach and provincial team assistant coach; Emma Vanwesterneng, Charlottetown; Sebastian Nash, Summerside; Mackenzie Hambly, Summerside and Ellen Gillis, Summerside. Missing are George Madumba, Summerside, and Dylan Shepherd, Charlottetown.
©Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer
LENNOX ISLAND -- Having Prince Edward Island’s three judo clubs working together in building a provincial team is paying dividends suggests provincial team manager Brian Nash.
“We’ve realized that, as a small club, a lot of our athletes, don’t have anybody locally to compete against, or they’re always competing against the same person,” said the provincial manager.
“It’s really been a concerted effort to try to work as a team with more support to our athletes,” said Nash during a recent group session at the Lennox Island club.
“We’re seeing success.”
Team P.E.I. is sending 10 judokas to the national championships May 24 to 28 in Calgary.
Nash said the provincial team set a goal last year of, within three years having 30 per cent of its athletes attending regional and national level competitions making the podium.
“We’ve already achieved it this year,” he said, noting 62 per cent of the athletes on the provincial team who attended the Eastern Canadian championships won medals.
At the national level, P.E.I. went from earning one medal at the Ontario and Quebec Open meets last year to winning six – three at each – this year.
All of the judokas attending, with the exception of Charlottetown’s Emma Vanwesterneng, are eligible to try out for the next Canada Games rotation. Although disappointed an age category change is keeping her from trying out for Canada Games, Vanwesterneng said it makes this year’s nationals that much more important. It will be her third nationals and she’s motivated.
“I am looking forward to it more,” she said, “because I’ve found this year I’ve been working a lot harder. My mentality, I have a lot more confidence this time around,” she said.
“Working with the team can also up your confidence, because you have all those people supporting you,” the nine-year veteran of the sport acknowledged. Turner Moore has been in judo six years and is hoping to make the most of his first national competition. The Lennox Island club member sees it as good preparation for his ultimate goal of making the P.E.I. Canada Games team. The 14 year-old said he has been working harder at the sport since learning in January he’d be attending nationals.
Moore feels the experience he’s gained from practicing and competing with judokas from the other two clubs will help him in a class with 22 other judokas at nationals.
Ellen Gillis is heading to her first national after two and a half years in the sport. “I’m trying to push myself harder because this is a big tournament,” said the Summerside club member. She’s already familiar with one of the five athletes she could face at nationals.
She described the group training sessions as awesome.
“It gets me excited and it’s just really fun to be with everybody practicing.”
Team manager Nash shares Gillis’s excitement.
“The wonderful thing I love about judo, from a personal perspective, is when you watch a competition, you can see competitors go head-to-head, and you know they’re giving it their all to try to beat the other person, but at the end of the match, they bow to each other, they shake hands and, within in the three clubs, they definitely leave as friends.”
Provincial team members
Summerside judokas: Sebastian Nash, U18, -90 kg; Ellen Gillis, U16, -70 kg; George Madumba, U16, +73kg and Mackenzie Hambly, U16, -57 kg.
Lennox Island judokas: Loren Enman, -51 kg; Turner Moore, -60 kg and Lydia Enman, -44kg, all in U16.
Charlottetown judokas: Emma Vanwesterneng, U18, +60kg; Dylan Shepherd, U18, -60 kg and Mikey Perry, U16, -38 kg.
Lydia Enman will be the youngest judoka to ever compete at Nationals. She, along with Hambly and Perry are attending as early bloomers.
Two of the athletes, Madumba and Nash from the Summerside club, will stay behind for a national team training camp.
Lennox Island instructor, Robin Enman, is the provincial team head coach and will be assisted at nationals by Chris Townsend and Tracy Gallant from the Summerside club.