Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Got a love affair with judo? Make a date for Valentine's Day

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JUDO can hardly be called the sport of love, but Gary Sova will be trying to make the best of things when his 2009 Winnipeg Inner City Judo Open Tournament is held Saturday at Tec Voc High School.

Sova, who's run the Inner City Judo Club for 27 years, is hosting his 24th Open on Valentine's Day, when many might be thinking more of amour and romance rather than throws and Nippons.

"It's happened a few other times where the Open has fallen on Valentine's Day," Sova chuckled Thursday. "So I always tell the guys 'Well, bring your girlfriend or your wife to the tournament to watch you.' "

Sova, one of two assistant coaches for Manitoba's provincial team under the guidance of head coach Mark Berger, hopes to have some of the best competitors from the Prairies and Ontario on hand for the Open.

If, that is, the weather co-operates.

"I'm just going to cross my fingers because last year, the roads were closed outside of Winnipeg so I'm just hoping that if everything goes right, we'd have about 175 athletes. The roads were closed today from Brandon to Saskatchewan.

"So I'm hoping the weather will co-operate Friday and Saturday."

The Open features the youngest of athletes through to the Senior age categories. Sova, a former national team member himself, said Winnipeg will be well represented by some of the best in the province.

There's Marco Sajdek of Berger's West Kildonan club, who fights in the 73-kg category, along with Matt Zebrasky (90 kg), From Steinbach, former national juvenile champion Manon Soulard, 16, (63 kg) is expected, along with France Blais-Shiokawa (57 kg).

Admission is free but donations are accepted. The event starts at 10:30 a.m.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 13, 2009 C6

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