Erik Lund was impressed with the performance of his small group during the Western Canadian Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championships May 11.
Six students from the Penticton Goes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club captured eight medals in Burnaby. Lund said his students trained hard and took the championship seriously.
Mason Poon, 17, of Penticton moved up to the adult division and won gold in the light featherweight white belt division. He then went up again to win the adult featherweight no-gi division.
Lund described the performances as amazing.
“As a coach I’m always apprehensive to move a juvenile up like that just for safety reasons. The athletes confidence is really important to me,” he said. “I don’t want to put him in a situation that he can’t handle.”
Tournament organizers approached Lund asking if Poon could move up. Lund approached Poon and his parents about it and was given the OK.
“I don’t want to say he made it look easy because that is disrespectful to his opponents,” said Lund. “He looked really good. He looked like he belonged in the next division up. He’s been promoted to blue belt as a result of that. I think Mason has accomplished everything he can as a white belt.”
Penticton’s Brian Booth took silver in the masters’ ultra-heavyweight white belt division, while Keagan Ingram, 10, of Summerland and Michael Poon, 15, won gold in their divisions and Kelson Hartland, 13, of Penticton took bronze representing the kids team.
Greg Nield, 29, of Summerland took double gold in the adult blue belt division where he won both his weight class and the prestigious absolute division.
His goal was to improve on last year when he won his division, but finished second in the open. Nield said it was good and has prepared him for competing in the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation world championships that started Wednesday in Long Beach, Calif.
“I felt more pressure in the Western Canadians because I almost felt like another year has gone by I should do better. Where as I don’t feel a lot of pressure with the world’s because I don’t really know what to expect,” he said. “I’m kind of using this as an experience. I know it sounds kind of weird because it’s a bigger event. I haven’t competed in it before. You can’t really expect one thing or another from yourself because you’ve never done it.”
Nield, a massage therapist, is excited to be exposed to different styles.
As for representing Penticton Goes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he said he just wants to do his best.
“Hopefully make everyone proud,” he said. “It’s all you can do.”
Lund said Nield, who has been training for three years, will be going up against guys in the blue belt division that have been training for up to six years.
“It’s great to see the progress he’s made,” said Lund. “I’d say his progress is faster than normal. I want him to just get the experience. Want him to do as well as he can.”