Judo: a historic success as a first experience for Antoine Valois-Fortier

Judo: a historic success as the first experience for Antoine Valois-Fortier< /p> UPDATE DAY

Never had the national judo team won three medals at a World Championship before this week. A record harvest that sums up Antoine Valois-Fortier's world debuts as a coach, after having experienced six of them as an athlete.

The Canadian delegation included nine judokas and ranked ninth in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. 

“All the ups and downs of this week will stick in my head as a truly unique experience,” explained Valois-Fortier. 

Jessica Klimkait, defending champion in the under 57 kg category, is this time on the third step of the podium in her category. Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard took silver in the under 63kg the next day, followed by Kyle Reyes in the under 100kg on Tuesday. 

Shady ElNahas (-100kg) and Arthur Margelidon (-73 kg) may have hoped for better, but they still obtained seventh places under the leadership of Valois-Fortier, who hastened to humbly congratulate the entire staff, in an interview with Sportcom . 

“I'm super happy and I think it's important to highlight the work of all the other coaches and the people who were there before me. I have been coaching at Judo Canada for a few months, do not think that these athletes have only developed in the last nine months”, he specifies. 

The Olympic medalist from the London Games has won a silver and two bronze medals at World Championships during his career. He also has six Grand Slam podiums and eight Grand Prix. 

He announced his retirement last year after competing in his third Olympic Games. However, Valois-Fortier assures that the nervousness he experienced when he fought on the tatami mats is still present. The difference is that it now shows up in multiple weight classes, throughout the week.

“I find myself even more stressed, and for longer! It's a lot of anxiety, as much if not more than before, but it's still pleasant and emotional,” he says, laughing.

Learning < /p>

Since he officially took office in January 2022, Antoine Valois-Fortier has never stopped learning as a coach. A cohort as talented as that of the Canadian team has facilitated its transition.

“They are mature athletes, both in terms of judo and between the two ears. They quickly made room for me and trusted me. I feel extremely lucky,” praises the coach. 

“[In the beginning] it was mostly getting to know everyone. I don't want to make the mistake of training every athlete the same way. Each person is different and it is a learning process that continues to this day.” 

The performances signed in Tashkent are encouraging for the future and prepare the ground for the Olympic qualification process . Canadian judokas are in particular likely to be influenced by the determination of their coach, which has only grown stronger in Uzbekistan. 

“To see that the athletes are of the caliber at such a important, it's really cool. It allows me to have big goals and I hope it motivates them too. We are able to prepare to perform at these events. We know what we are doing, all you need is the right recipe at the right time,” concludes Valois-Fortier.