Sunday, July 24, 2011

Last trip on the pan am tour...

Well I know it’s a little late but here is what happened in Venezuela.

Coming in to this world cup I was feeling great! I had just taken a bronze medal at the US World cup and a 5th place finish at the Super world cup in Rio. In the first round I fought a guy from Brazil who I had never seen before, which is rare for me because normally at this level I have pretty much seen everyone that I normally face. Having said that I went into the fight being very cautious. Normally any Brazilian judo player that Brazil actually sends onto the world cup circuit are pretty good, so I just wanted to be careful not to get caught.
During the fight I ended up taking him down to the ground and submitting him with a triangle lock. This win put me into the 3rd round because I had a bye in my first round. In the 3rd round I was up against the Bosnian player who I had beat the weekend before in Miami. This time however the fight did not go as planned. During the fight I was controlling all of the gripping exchanges and was actually up by a yuko(quarter point) until he surprised me with an attack and scored a match ending ippon(full point). After the match was ok I was extremely pissed off at myself, because normally I don’t make mistakes like that, and again this weekend because I was left with only a chance for bronze.

Coming back to win the bronze meant I had to win 2 more matches and in both matches I faced the number 2 and number 1 seeded Americans who are both ranked top 22 in the world. First up was the number 2 American, Michael Eldred. Having fought so many times in our careers we pretty much knew what the other player was going to do, so it became a chess match of who was going to make the first mistake and who was going to be the aggressor. At this level it really comes down to the smallest of things sometimes, anyone can win at this level so it extremely important that you stay aggressive during the entire 5min of a fight.
After the first 5min of regulation time the match was tied so we went in to sudden death over time. During overtime I was able to score a full point (ippon) with a hip throw, putting me into the bronze medal match against the number 1 American player. Nick Delpopolo(who actually beat me at the world championships in 2010 – knocked me out of contention for a medal) – In this fight it was a similar match to the previous one because we have fought each other for so long, we have even trained together so when it came down to it, the match was going to be decided by who was the more aggressive fighter. During the fight the USA player was given two penalties giving me the bronze medal and my 12th career world cup medal (2nd overall behind Nicolas Gill for men’s total in judo Canada history)

Overall I was happy with the result but it was bitter sweet due to the fact that I had not been able to take the gold medal home. NO worries I still had one more world cup to fight before the world championships – or so I thought !!!!

On Wednesday before the next world cup we took a flight from Venezuela to El Salavor (where the next world cup was being held) but things did not turn out as planned. After being delayed on our first flight (which was a 45min flight) by over 2hrs, we ended up missing our connecting flight in Caracas. After some delay there and trying to rebook our ticket with the airport staff we also found out that no one on the team would be able to leave the country and fly to El Salvador without there immunization forms and documents that showed we had our yellow fever shots. Not good news seeing how no one on the team had those documents with them. I guess this is a new rule that they have decided to enforce, but just not tell any travellers until they get to the airport.
So now team Canada was stuck at the airport with no idea of how or when we would be able to get to El Salvador.

After finding out what exactly we needed, everyone called home and got the documents scanned and emailed back to us, while the coach tried to buy new tickets for everyone. This put us over a day behind schedule, and also very close to the start of the tournament. Not good news.
The other thing that sucked was that there were not enough tickets for everyone to fly to El Salvador the next day, and the ticket that the team ended up getting was leaving at 6:30pm Friday and landing at 11pm – so that meant the team after travelling for more the 45hrs would only get into the hotel about 8hrs before they had to weigh in. They would actually be dead tired from 45hrs of travelling, hungry and just not in the mood to fight.

So after talking with my coach I decided that it was best for me not to head to El Salvador anymore because we did not think that it was worth the hassle and money to get there so late before an event. I changed my ticket from Venezuela to come home.

A short 40hrs later I finally touched down in Montreal – couldn’t be happier.

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