Nanaimo Judo Club athlete Korin Gardner won gold in his U16 division at the Canadian Judo Championships last month. (GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin)

Judo club has new national champ

Korin Gardner wins in his U16 division

Nanaimo’s little judo club is continuing to achieve big things.

The Nanaimo Judo Club can boast another national champion as Korin Gardner won gold in his U16 division at the Canadian Judo Championships in Calgary at the end of May. Gardner also fought up an age class, taking silver in the U18 division.

Gardner said he was “pretty happy” to win a national championship.

“And happy for the people that supported me, like my coaches, my parents,” he said.

He felt well-prepared going into the competition.

“I wasn’t actually so nervous, surprisingly,” Gardner said. “Everyone was there to help me and support me and I was ready.”

He said he relies a lot on his coaches helping him game-plan for each match.

“They watch my opponents when they fight and my coaches come to tell me how they fight, how I should defend, how I should attack.”

The teen earned another win off the mats this month, as he was selected Judo B.C.’s Male Athlete of the Year at the association’s annual general meeting last week. Gardner is holidaying in Japan this summer and has connections to do some judo training while he’s there. The national champ is already looking forward to next season and beyond, motivated by his recent success.

“Yes, it makes me want to fight more in judo, it makes me want to train more,” he said.

Also at nationals, Alicia Fiandor earned silver in U21 and senior women’s divisions and Cheyenne Fiandor earned bronze in U21.

Alicia Fiandor felt good about how nationals went facing tough competition.

“I went toe-to-toe with the top seed in Canada. It was a fairly close match both times,” Alicia said.

She said she’ll need to work on gripping and controlling the match, as well as lots of strength and conditioning, as she prepares for a busy summer of international competitions. She’s got the Pan-Am championships next month in Cancun, followed by the U.S. Open in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. in July and then the U18 world championships in Santiago, Chile, in August. As a member of Team Canada, she will also have training camps this summer in Lethbridge, Alta., and Montreal.

Alicia has competed in the Pan-Ams and U.S. Open, but this will be her first time at worlds.

“I’m actually the first person from my dojo to go to worlds, so I’m pretty excited,” she said, adding she feels supported by her Nanaimo club-mates.

“They’ve all kind of known what’s going on; they’ve been my training partners throughout the year; they’ve all been working towards the goal with me,” she said.

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