No judo team outside Ontario and Quebec has ever won gold in the Canada Winter Games — until Friday.
Team Alberta’s judo women made history at Westerner Park with their first-place performance.
The men won bronze and made their contribution to the record books by giving Alberta its biggest judo medal haul ever with 12 individual and two team medals. The previous best was eight medals.
Women’s coach Laurie Wiltshire agreed the women are excited about their history-making achievement.
“We’re extremely pumped about this, yes.”
The team had to go through P.E.I. and a strong Ontario team before coming up against West Coast rivals B.C. in the final, which Alberta won 4-1.
“In our individual competitions we all did really well,” said Wiltshire. “Coming into this we were very confident.
“The girls were very focused. They stuck with the plan as they needed to do and they got the job done.”
The team includes: Evelyn Beaton, Greta Goasdoue-Wallace, Michelle Grisales, Kondelia Karas, Teyana Roberts, Ema Tesanovic and Kiera Westlake.
Team B.C. took silver and as is the practice in judo two teams shared bronze, Quebec and Ontario.
Team Alberta provincial coach Ewan Beaton said the success of both men and women is the culmination of a program started a few years ago.
“We’ve been building for this for four years.”
Judo Alberta built a program designed to rival the competitive level of other provinces. All of the province’s clubs and coaches bought into the program, which led to this Games breakout performances and is expected to lead to more success, said Beaton
“That’s one of our main goals is to put people on world championship teams, then next Olympic teams.”
While they had a young team at the Games, it had national champions and other competitors with international experience.
They figured 10 medals were within reach but are thrilled to hit 14, out of a possible 16, he said.
“We can’t ask for anything better.”
The men’s team includes: Taylor Althouse, Joel Demaere, Nathan Demaere, Nicholas Gagnon, Katsuo Leung, Douglas O’Brien and Sasha Tanasiuk.
Team Quebec won gold, Team B.C. silver and Ontario was the other bronze winner.