Trip report: 2022 judo Open Nationals

Posted by Patrick Lam on Tuesday, June 7, 2022

The point of the early May judo camp was to prepare for Nationals, which was two weeks later in Montréal. I wanted to fight in the seniors (i.e. all-ages) so that I could grade for 5th dan in the Competitive Stream—I’m 2 wins short. Judo Québec staff asked if I wanted to also fight in the veterans (i.e. old man) division. Sure, why not. The veterans was on Friday and the lightest category is -66kg. Seniors was on Sunday and I was confident that I could make -60kg. I’ve never missed it before when trying, but it’s not super fun.

But first, because of the timing, I was able to wish my mom happy birthday. Surprise! (I didn’t tell them that I was coming.) She was happy to see me.

Veterans Open Nationals

In veterans, we reproduced the podium from 2018, except that we got an additional bronze medallist. Couldn’t beat the gold medallist Arthur; he did the same throws on me as on the silver medallist Tim. And I lost to Tim after 5 minutes of overtime. I had one win on the ground with a pin. I’d hoped that being able to train during the pandemic would have helped, but apparently it didn’t.


What I really cared about was seniors, because only senior points count for Competitive Stream grading. First round was against the silver medallist from U18, who also had a good showing recently this year in seniors. We got to overtime but then he threw me. Overtime is going to be tough to win against 16 year olds.

I won the next match (in the repechage). I didn’t technically win on the ground, but I had a pin for a half-point (he escaped) and then he panicked and went in for a throw which I countered for a full point.

My opponent no-showed the next match, which I really didn’t want (no points). That’s the rules, I guess, but really not ideal.

The next match would guarantee 5th place. Unfortunately I lost to the same guy I’d lost to at Quebec provincials; he finished 3rd on the day. That left me with a 7th place finish. The match was going well (better than at provincials) until he figured out how to outgrip me. Then it didn’t go well for me, and I got thrown. I’ve noticed this happening in the past too. Sometimes one can figure out the thing that works against an opponent. Unfortunately I wasn’t the one doing the figuring in this match.


People say it’s inspirational that I’m still fighting at my age (yes, I’m 44 and fighting 16 year olds). I’m lucky in that I can make the time to train, in that I was in NZ during the pandemic, and that I have no significant injuries. In the end, competition is about evaluating your current skill level compared to your field, and one’s goal&mdashmy goal—is to win, not just to participate.

So, overall, I found that it was a good return to senior competition. My most recent senior Canadian circuit points before that were at the nationals in 2016, and I felt like I did better at this event than in 2016. It was about as well as I thought I could do. Obviously I’d like to do better, but also, it is the Nationals. Thanks to my coaches: Bianca (Québec provincial coach) and Cédric (club coach). Now I have to fight the Québec Open and possibly the Ontario Open (hope not).

Quebec team gear for Nationals; from the stands; Veterans -66kg podium; cutting to -60kg.

Bonus: Travel logistics

Originally, weigh-in on Thursday was scheduled for 6:30pm, and I’d gotten a flight arriving at 4:30. Trudeau airport to tournament site could be done by taxi in 20 minutes if no traffic (but, Montreal at 4:30). Then Judo Canada changed the weigh-in time to 5:30. Definitely too tight.

Fun travel facts: Air Canada’s Rapidair flights (Toronto/Montreal/Ottawa) allow free standby for any non-Basic fare. Usually I do manage to standby successfully if it’s not too close to takeoff time. But I got a bit worried because this was Thursday just before the Victoria Day long weekend. I figured that I’d better try to fly as early as possible to ensure success. One lecture recording and one 8:50 departure from Waterloo later, I managed to get confirmed on the noon flight from Pearson. (Note 1: in principle it’s standby for free/confirmed for a fee, but I’ve been confirmed on the flight for free occasionally before too; Note 2: I’m 2/2 for confirming from Pearson even though I’m booked from City Centre). This got me in to Montréal Trudeau at 1:30 and to the Centre Claude Robillard at 3:15pm using the 747 city bus. No point in getting there earlier.

On the way back (Monday) I also managed to standby for Trudeau-to-Pearson despite booking to City Centre again. Got me back to Toronto 30 minutes earlier than I booked, and not having to take UP Express was another 30 minutes to an hour saved. Might have gotten home at 10pm on the booked itinerary; actually got home at 9pm.

Other annoying logistics: we had to stay in the tournament hotel the nights before we were fighting, but it was kind of pricey ($150) and I didn’t really want to share a room especially in the time of COVID, so I swapped between airbnbs ($50) and the tournament hotels. As I’ve written before, the things I need to get to in Montreal are not super accessible to each other. Bikeshare on a 30°C day helped for losing weight and also for getting around, but I also used the metro a bunch. Also annoying was that I didn’t necessarily want to leave my laptop around the tournament site unattended more than I needed to. So I stashed stuff in different places which also weren’t that close to each other. I thought about not bringing the laptop but didn’t think I could get away with that on a 5 day trip in the middle of the term. In the end, it was just annoying, but not too bad. I say that because my laptop didn’t get stolen…