With the Paralympic Games rapidly approaching, Report On Rio will preview every event that has a Canadian team competing in Brazil — featuring past results, schedules, rosters, and expectations.
The Canadian judo team head to Rio hoping to bring home their country’s first gold or silver medal in the event.
Canada has won four bronze medals at the Paralympic Games, three courtesy of Pier Morten, famous for being the world’s first deaf-blind black belt in judo.
Para-judo is designed for visually impaired athletes, who compete in various weight categories for men and women. Unlike in Olympic judo, combatants have contact with each other at the start of the match and the para-judo mat has a different texture.
Para-judo was first included on the Paralympic program at the 1988 Seoul Games.
Meet the Team
Priscilla Gagné, competing in the B1:52 kilo class, will lead Canadian Para-Judo hopes at the Rio Games.
Montreal-based Gagné won a silver medal at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games and is trying to keep a lid on her emotions while going to her first Paralympic Games.
“It’s extremely exciting. It’s hard to wrap your head around,” said the 30-year-old. “It’s something I’m trying not to focus on too much until the day after I compete. That’s when I’ll let it hit me.”
Gagné has medalled at world cup events in 2016 and is carrying that confidence to Brazil.
“I definitely want to medal,” said Gagné, who was a wrestling athlete in high school. “My ultimate goal – there’s two people I would really like to be able to defeat but ultimately to take the gold.”
Tony Walby will accompany Gagné as the second member of the Canadian team. A veteran of the sport, Walby finished seventh at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
The 42-year-old, who formerly competed in able-bodied judo before his sight deteriorated, has claimed two bronze medals this year in international play.
“Tony is one of the most experienced para-judokas in the field and he plans to capitalize on that in Rio,” said Andrzej Sadej, Head Coach of the Para-Judo team.
The 2016 Paralympic Games run Sept. 7 to 18, 2016, with the para-judo events scheduled to run Sept. 8 to 10.
Photo credit: Canadian Paralympic Committee
Video Credit: Conversations with Garmamie