Abbotsford’s judo athletes took full advantage of having the Canadian championships just down the road at the Richmond Olympic Oval, turning in a series of memorable results.
The Abbotsford Judo Club (AJC) cracked the top-10 in the overall club point standings for the first time ever, finishing eighth after collecting six medals.
Brandon Jobb led the charge for the local club, winning gold medals in both the U21 and senior men’s divisions at -90 kg. Jeff Swadden (+100 kg) was also a double medalist, claiming gold at U18 and bronze at U21. Young standout Leo Goldberg (U15 -50 kg) also won a gold medal, while Simren Brar (U18 -46 kg) took bronze.
Additionally, Abbotsford native Scott McGrandle, who trains out of the National Training Centre (NTC) in Montreal, came home to win his second senior national title in the -81 kg weight class.
“There were some good guys in the category, and I had to fight the whole podium, so it was a good performance,” the 23-year-old said.
McGrandle (pictured right) moved to Montreal five years ago after graduating from W.J. Mouat Secondary, and he’s participated in several international tournaments in recent years. He picked up a bronze medal at a World Cup event El Salvador in 2012, and owns a pair of top-five finishes in 2013.
“I’ve been to El Salvador, Miami, Germany, Brazil . . . tons of places,” McGrandle said. “I’m just trying to see how far I can take it, see where it goes.”
Jobb is set to follow in McGrandle’s footsteps – he’s moving to Montreal to train at the NTC in September. In Richmond, he earned his first senior national title.
“I’d actually never even placed at the senior level before, so I was pretty happy with that,” said Jobb, who qualified for the junior world championships in Slovenia in October. “It’s giving me motivation to train harder and take my judo to the world stage.”
Swadden was a first-time national champ at the U18 level, and qualified for the cadet world championships in Miami in August. He rode that wave of confidence to a second podium finish at U21.
“I noticed big improvements in confidence the second day I fought, after I won the gold medal (at U18),” he said. “I think it’s just going to help me more.”
AJC head instructor Tokue Suda had high praise for Goldberg (pictured left), the third gold medalist from the local club.
“He’s going to be a superstar,” he said. “He works so hard, just unbelievable.”
Suda was similarly effusive about the overall eighth-place finish by his club.
“We did a fantastic job, unbelievable,” he said. “We never though we’d have this kind of result.”