Mary and Kiyo Nomura were awarded Sport B.C. Presidents’ Awards earlier this spring for their longtime contributions to judo. GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Sport B.C. recognizes Nanaimo judo supporters

Mary and Kiyo Nomura receive Presidents’ Awards for supporting sport in Nanaimo for nearly 60 years

Most judo clubs only last a couple of years before they find they can’t make a go of it, says Nanaimo Judo Club instructor Eloy Fiandor.

Something about the Nanaimo Judo Club is special, and has helped the club approach 60 years – two major reasons for the club’s longevity are Mary and Kiyo Nomura, who have been there since the start.

The Nomuras were honoured earlier this spring at Sport B.C.’s 24th annual Presidents’ Awards in Vancouver.

“The staying power is unbelievable, being part of the community, bringing judo to children and adults … for that long a time,” Fiandor said. “They’ve made it stick in the community. This has been a staple in the community.”

Kiyo said “it’s great” to receive the Sport B.C. award, and recalled the club’s beginnings in 1960.

“He started out with $12 from the credit union. That became the judo club money,” said Mary.

Kiyo was the club’s first instructor.

“At first I only had 20 adults, and they went up and after we had juniors, they helped teach,” he said.

And the momentum carried from there, as the judo club bounced around to many different sites depending on what was available and affordable. A couple of different locations on Terminal Avenue and the Nanaimo Curling Club were used and eventually the club settled into its facility on Machleary Street that has been home for the past 20 years.

Kiyo is still club president and the couple can be found at the facility every week.

“They like to greet the newcomers and get to know the families that are participating in the club,” said Anita Sundberg, club secretary. “And that is what I think is what’s so enduring, is that people have this lasting memory of the club and part of that is even just their conversations that happen in the stands with these people that have seen and done a lot in their 60 years with the club.”

And the Nomuras still feel like they have more to give to the Nanaimo Judo Club.

“Every time Kiyo and I say, ‘Well, Kiyo and I are going to drop off now and we’re going to quit,’ they say, ‘If you quit, then the club won’t be the same,’” said Mary. “So we’ve hung around.”

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