City kicks out welcome mat

Wednesday November 4th, 2009


November 15, 2009

Norman Rogers Airport has helped Kingston land Judo Ontario's oldest and most prestigious tournament.

More than 500 athletes from most of the provinces and the United States will compete at the Ontario International Open, Nov. 7-8 at the Kingston Military Community Sports Centre.

It will be the first time Judo Ontario's largest event has been held away from the Greater Toronto Area.

Charlie Formosa, president of Judo Ontario, said after four years of holding the tournament in Mississauga, the venue costs had become too high.

At first, Judo Ontario was worried about giving up the proximity of Toronto's Pearson International Airport as more than 75% of the event's athletes are from out of province.

But Formosa said Norman Rogers Airport's connecting flights from Toronto proved to be vital.

"Once we found there were six flights per day from the Toronto international airport to Kingston, that was such a big relief," Formosa said.

"Instead of the (venue move) being an inconvenience for the other provinces who would have had to rent vehicles, there are connecting flights, which means in less than an hour they will be here."

Formosa, who has been in judo for 45 years, is an international judge and holds a sixth degree black belt, said top-level competition will be coming to Kingston.

"These are very high-calibre athletes and this is a pointable tournament, meaning the athletes get points to (qualify) for the nationals," Formosa said.

While the tournament will not bring in the likes of Oshawa's Kelita Zupancic (a bronze medal winner at the Judo World Cup in England recently), who was a student of Formosa's at one time, it will feature the up-and-comers of judo, which is an Olympic sport.

"You are going to get elite competition here. They are all aspiring to go to a higher level and this particular competition takes them to that by accumulating the right points," Formosa said.

Dorothy Hector, city councillor and herself a decorated judo athlete as a member of Kingston's Cloverdale Judo Club, is the honorary chair of the Ontario International Open.

"She is a great supporter of the sport. She made her mark at the the national level. She's been instrumental in bringing this competition (to Kingston)," Formosa said.

Hector, who joined the Cloverdale Judo Club in 1973, working under longtime instructor Ron Lloyd, was beaming about the Ontario International Open coming to the city.

It is easily the biggest judo event Kingston has seen in the 50-year history of judo in the city.

"It is absolutely fantastic to think such a large event is coming to Kingston in my favourite sport," Hector said.

"This competition is a new beginning in our city, hopefully on an annual basis."

Hector said people should take advantage of the event, which could be a showcase for future Olympians.

"I encourage all Kingstonians to come out and be part of the (event) by watching and learning about an Olympic sport," she said.

"People should be at the Kingston Military Community Sports Centre to see an Olympic sport in action."


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