SPORTS FLASHBACK 1978: First East-Man Open termed a huge success
The first East-Man Open Judo competition at the Steinbach Regional Secondary School was a success beyond the expectations of the organizers, with more than 225 fighters in more than 40 age and weight categories, vying for a total of 130 medals.
The Steinbach-Ste Anne Judo Club, which sponsored the event, came away with two dozen medals. Debbie Nilsson lead the way for the hometown club with two golds.
Nilsson captured gold medals in the open competition for blue belts, as well as the advanced blue belt competition. She also received a trophy for being the outstanding fighter in the advanced girls’ division.
Another Ste Anne judo competitor, Carol Saindon, won a gold medal in the novice competition and was named the most improved fighter at the meet.
Steinbach’s John Demchenko recorded the fastest finish to a fight when he downed an opponent in 3.75 seconds, but unfortunately had to settle for the silver medal in the advanced 13-16-age category, when the same fighter came back to defeat him in the final match.
Lot Sze earned a gold medal in advanced competition, but settled for a bronze in open competition, when he lost in the finals to the same fighter who he had beaten for the gold.
Roxanne Boulianne took a gold medal in the advanced 7-12 competition and Mark Kliewer and Craig Champagne won gold medals in the advanced 13-16 and novice 13-16 categories respectively.
In all, 13 clubs competed in the East-Man Open, with Brandon, Portage la Prairie Thompson, University of Manitoba, and Steinbach-Ste Anne representing Manitoba. Fighters from Ontario came from Kenora-Keewatin, Dryden, Sioux Narrows, and the S & J Club. There were also entries from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
According to event organizers, most of the credit for the success of the first East Man Open and the judo program in this area must go to Don Keddie who spent countless hours with interested youngsters in the past year.
Without Keddie to take the initiative, it is unlikely an East-Man Open could have been held and if it had been, local fighters would not have enjoyed the success they did.