Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Morris Prokop

LININ' UP – The U8-U10 competitors line up to receive their medals at the 2023 Yukon Judo Championships at the Canada Games Centre Saturday.

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Photo by Morris Prokop

UPSIDE DOWN – Shiroumakai's Philippe Lefavre warms up prior to winning gold in the Boys U11 -33 kg Intermediate division.

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Photo by Morris Prokop

COME BACK HERE! – Golden Horn's Aurora Barnes gets a grip on Shiroumakai's Calvin Mao in the Mixed U10 -30 kg Novice division. Mao edged Barnes for gold in the division.

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Photo by Morris Prokop

TAKEDOWN – Calvin Mao has Golden Horn's Luca Berger in his grasp during a Mixed U10 -30 kg Novice match.

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Photo by Morris Prokop

ON TOP – Philippe Lefavre on top of fellow Shiroumakai athlete Xavier Davis in the Boys U11 -33 kg Intermediate division.

Shiroumakai, Hiroshikai dominate 2023 Yukon Judo Champs

The Shiroumakai and Hiroshikai clubs dominated the 2023 Yukon Judo Championships.

By Whitehorse Star on May 11, 2023

The Shiroumakai and Hiroshikai clubs dominated the 2023 Yukon Judo Championships.

The Championships took place at the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse.

65 athletes from five clubs participated in the event.

The categories ranged in age from U8 (born in 2018) to a Senior Men's open weight category.

The Senior Men's category featured two U21 athletes and one older athlete.

Aaron Jensen, technical director of Judo Yukon, said the matches with the senior fighters went well.

"The youth did prevail. The two younger higher-ranked belts did win first and second place."

A few U18s that are part of Judo Yukon's High Performance team competed in the event, including Liam Gishler and Kaylee Fortier.

Three others, Jaymi and Lia Hinchey and Leah McLean, didn't attend due to other commitments.

Gishler fought in the U21 division. Eban Basnett fought in the Senior Men's and U21 categories.

Four athletes from Carcross fought in the U18 division in a double-elimination knockout.

Some of Jensen's Shiroumakai club athletes at the event stood out.

"Eban Basnett fought pretty well. He's one of my students from years ago that has been away from the sport and has just come back here in the last six months.

"He did quite well fighting in two different divisions."

Basnett won gold in Men's U21 and silver in the Senior Men's.

"There is a girl from Faro that caught everybody's eye, not just this event, but we did two other events, one in Carmacks and one in Carcross," recalled Jensen. "Her name is Ava Wilcox … she is definitely a promising future athlete if we can keep her in the sport."

Wilcox won the Girls U10 -35 kg division.

"William Callahan from Golden Horn also caught my eye as a future potential competitor," related Jensen.

Callahan finished second in the Boy's U12 -37 kg Intermediate.

Maxime Oleshak also caught Jensen's eye.

"She's a yellow belt, but she just started this year and again, because of her age and her size, she's ended up fighting up in age category.

"As a U14 Maxime had to fight U16 girls, and she did quite well there, taking the silver medal.

"Philippe Lefavre, also from my club, did quite well." LeFavre won the Boys U11 -33 kg Intermediate.

Jensen also mentioned Laila Knopp-Cullen, who finished first in the U9 Girls -31 kg Intermediate, as another potential up-and-comer.

Michael Bellon, the Golden Horn Judo head sensei (coach), brought a team of 26 athletes to the event.

He said his athletes were doing great at the competition.

Bellon singled out Thompson Yeoman in particular.

"This is his first tournament and he's gotten two ippons (highest score in a match), so I'm pretty impressed. He's kind of a natural at it. I'm seeing great things for him."

As for what's up next for Judo Yukon, Jensen said, "Penny Prysnuk and myself are going with the High Performance team to the Open Canadian Nationals in Montreal."

The six athletes who will be competing are Jaymi and Lia Hinchey, Leah McLean, Liam Gishler, Kaylee Fortier and Huxley Briggs.

The Open Nationals take place May 18-21 and are followed by a three day camp in Montreal.

"It's more experience at the highest level available in Canada," explained Jensen. "I try not to put expectations on them for medals. For me, it's more just (the) experience of getting them out there at this level, and more of a personal gauge of where they fit. And hopefully they stay with it."

The medal totals for the Yukon Champs were as follows:

Shiroumakai: Nine gold, seven silver and four bronze for a total of 20.

Hiroshikai: Five gold, eight silver and eight bronze – 21.

Golden Horn: Four gold, three silver and three bronze – 10.

Faro: Two gold and two silver – 4.

Carmacks: One gold and one silver – 2.

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