By Erin Knutson
The Invermere Judo Club is celebrating 50 years of Judo as they prepare to host the upcoming interprovincial training camp at the Columbia Valley Centre and David Thompson Secondary School. It will be one of the first camps of its kind in the area for quite some time, according to national champ and Grade 10 DTSS student Graham Norquay.
The camp is slated to host 275 athletes from across western Canada and will be taught by 2016 Rio Olympic Games silver medalist Travis Stevens.
“It’s incredible to train with someone like him and it will give us great insight on the best competitors in the sport,” said Mr. Norquay.
Mr. Norquay is no stranger to success, having beat out the competition in years prior but things will be different this season as he goes up an age and weight class. Mr. Norquay at 14 will be competing against older rivals but that is something he’s prepared for. The earnest and serious young athlete trains five days a week, alternating between Judo (two days) and Jiu Jitsu for the other three.
Respect is a key element of the sport and one that is taught by the founder of the Judo club, Herman Mauthner. Mr. Norquay credits Mr. Mauthner as a mentor, a great coach, and someone who teaches the merits of a positive mentality in competition and in life.
“He encourages me to put my best foot forward,” said Mr. Norquay.
To prepare for success, Mr. Norquay is working on strategies to improve and strengthen his technique. The athlete has made obvious sacrifices to hone his skillset.
“It involves a lot of my time but it’s worth it,” he said of balancing school, home life, and Judo. “I really look up to my coaches and I enjoy the coach-style method of teaching,” he said.
Ten years in the sport has taught the athlete many things over the years, one of them being a gentle approach, a strategy that seems to spill over into his daily interactions with others and one that is reflected in his kind demeanor.
“The sport itself is really a martial art, we’re taught the gentle way, it’s a gentle art and there is no use of brutality,” he said.
Mr. Norquay anticipates the training camp to be challenging while bringing out the best in its participants.
“The sport gives you a different perspective, it teaches you to focus and to treat your opponents with respect.”
The public is encouraged to check out the Judo participants over the weekend. The Judo camp runs Friday, September 29th from 5-6:30 p.m. with participants back on the mat Saturday and Sunday morning until 11 a.m.