IJF Media had a chat with Nicolas Gill, CEO Judo Canada and key person in the organization of this inaugural Grand Prix.
Nicolas Gill, CEO Judo Canada

“So far, one of the objectives of hosting a Judo Grand Prix in Canada is already achieved, i.e. 3 medals on day one, promoting judo in Canada, especially in the Montréal area,” says the IJF Hall of Famer. “We have great media coverage, and a live TV-show for this Grand Prix, so I can already confirm that this already has a positive outcome towards the promotion of our sport. Hopefully by the end of the weekend, more objectives can be reached.”

All-Canadian -57kg final between Deguchi & Klimkait

Hosting a Grand Prix is for Gill a tool to the continuous development of judo in the country, still a niche sport in hockey crazed Canada. “When I became the CEO of Judo Canada, less than three years ago, for me hosting events is crucial to further develop judo in Canada. Montréal was a key part for this development as it has the strongest judo population of the country. Having a Grand Prix and a major international event was a goal and it came sooner than I expected since initially the GP was aimed for the 2020-2024 cycle. But the opportunity came along with the support of the city of Montréal, the provincial and federal government. They all answered to our call and request and this made it possible to host now.”

The inaugural event will definitely be a historical moment for Judo Canada. “The first edition is always great and also having Teddy Riner attending is a blessing in the sky. Due to his presence it’s clearly a different event. Montréal will be the center of international judo for a couple of days.”

Medal Podium -66kg with Jacob Valois (CAN)

It’s also a special opportunity for the Canadian judokas to have a stellar event on home soil. It beats the many travels for a change. “For me one of the conditions to host this type of events is having on the tatami Canadian athletes that can medal,” says Gill. “Promotion of judo is great, it’s also a goal but besides that the main aim of the national team program is to win. To host an event like this GP, to invest time and money, we have undoubtedly expectations of result and we pursuit this because we think we have athletes that can win medals. This is the other objective that I try to achieve, so our athletes consolidate points towards Tokyo 2020 but also towards seedings for the Worlds, as this is one of the last preparations for the World Championship. That’s why this Grand Prix is a really important event for us.”

The Montréal GP also an opportunity for promising young Canadian athletes

For the athletes performing on home soil it will be a tremendous experience. “For many of them it will be the first time,” says Gill. “It’s a great opportunity they will remember for the rest of their lives. And Canadian success in front of a home crowd in Montréal will create memories that will last forever.”

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