By Steve Hubrecht 

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The Invermere Judo Club recently put in a stellar performance at the Rocky Mountain Invitational tournament in Calgary and is looking ahead to other competitions this season.

The club is in what head sensei and manager Jeanette Riches terms a “rebuilding” phase, coming back from a long break during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the retirement of club founder and long-time head sensei Herman Mauthner.

The club sent 20 athletes and five coaches to the tournament on Sunday, Feb. 3., bringing home a haul of five gold medals, seven silver medals, and seven bronze medals.

“We had great results,” said Riches. “Everyone had fun, from our youngest competitors to our veterans. Overall it was a very successful tournament.”

Next up is the B.C. Winter Games later this month in Quesnel. The Invermere Judo Club will send one competitor, Konnor Cavanagh, and two junior coaches, Cassia Riches and Lenni Stich to the Games. They will be in Quesnel from Thursday, Feb. 22 to Saturday, Feb. 24 and will be part of a Kootenay team consisting of athletes from the Creston?Judo?Club and the Invermere club.

“This will be a great opportunity for all three of them. Konnor will be up against the best competitors in the province. Cassia and Lenni went as competitors back in 2018 and are looking forward to gaining experience as coaches,” said Riches.

After that it’s the Edmonton International tournament from Friday, March 8 to Sunday, March 10. 

The Edmonton International is the biggest tournament of the year for the Invermere Judo Club and is held in West Edmonton Mall. The tournament will draw more than 1,000 participants from all over Canada, and also counts as a qualifier for provincials.

“Judo, along with other sports, took a hit during the pandemic when things were shut down.?We are thrilled to be building?judo?back up in our community as it has so many benefits,” said Riches.

The club is growing, and recently moved its dojo to the Columbia Valley Martial Arts Centre, located at the crossroads above the Invermere Veterinary Hospital.

The Invermere Judo Club currently has five certified level two coaches. Its largest class is its junior class (for 8-12 year olds), which has 20 participants. The club’s senior class (for those older than 12) is growing with 12 participants. The club’s season runs from September to April, and aside from tournaments, involves training twice a week.

“We have a terrific group that are very dedicated to learning?judo.?It is a great way to build friendships, develop mental and physical discipline, teamwork, self confidence and respect.??Judo?is not only a sport but a way of life,” said Riches.

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