You know you’ve hit the big time when you are attending invite-only sporting events.
Given that chance in Montreal this past weekend, Wilson Elliot showed everyone why he is the real deal.
The young Yellowknife judoka competed in the boys U18 90-kg category at the Judo Canada Elite Nationals. Elite in the fact that only the country’s top eight athletes in each weight category were invited to compete. Elliot got the invite courtesy of him being the number one-ranked judoka in his category going into the event.
Elliot ended up winning a silver medal, losing the championship bout to Xavier Coutu of Quebec by ippon (one point, all that’s required to win a match) but Mario Desforges, Elliot’s coach, said he really lost to a mistake.
“Wilson went forward a bit and tried to move back,” he said. “Coutu was too strong and grabbed Wilson and that was it.”
It was the only blemish on Elliot’s record in the event. Leading up to the gold medal contest, Elliot had won every single one of his bouts, beating Ramy Aba of Quebec, Marcus Wheaton of New Brunswick and Simon Popov of Ontario, all by ippon and all in less than two minutes.
The big reason Elliot did so well, said Desforges, was because his technique has improved by leaps and bounds.
“His grips are better now and he was dominating all of his fights with his grips,” he said. “He only made one mistake and got grabbed after trying to switch his legs. Other than that, he fought very well.”
Elliot earned his number one ranking courtesy of competing in several Judo Canada-sanctioned events over the past 12 months and finishing high enough to earn the points necessary to top the rankings.
Desforges admitted he expected Elliot to be in contention.
“He’s had a good progression and has worked hard to be at the top,” he said. “Coutu was the only one who could give him a good battle and that’s because he has some more strength in his shoulders, his shoulders are bigger. That’s something Wilson has to work on and he will.”
The event itself was done in such a way to provide a professional-like atmosphere with the mat centrally on the arena floor, projection screens above and five cameras documenting all the action.
Desforges said it was an experience he and Elliot have never had before.
“All of the attention was on the kids and that was really cool,” he said. “Wilson even had his own fan club in the audience and they were chanting his name.”
Looking ahead, Elliot will be back training as he prepares for the Pacific International Open in Richmond, B.C., in March, which will lead into the national championships in May.