While most high school students were spending spring break vacationing, Mason Bruneau spent his time in intense training – and it paid off.
Bruneau recently returned from the Edmonton International Judo Championships, held from April 5-7, with one gold and one silver medal in two separate categories: youth 21 and senior intermediate.
It was his second last tournament before heading to the Canadian National Judo Championships in Richmond, B.C., where his ultimate aim is gold.
“That’s my big goal,” he said. “Nationals are coming up in a couple of months. I know I have one more competition before to maybe collect another few medals.”
Having only lost one fight during the entire competition in Edmonton, even when fighting against higher-ranking belts, the blue belt is becoming more confident.
It didn’t hurt that prior to the competition he travelled to Montreal to train for 40 hours over 12 days with the Canadian national team, including coach Nicholas Gill, a two-time Olympic medallist.
Bruneau also trained with Akinori Hongo, a champion judoka from Japan, to improve his technique even more.
“They showed me a lot of tricks I could use in competitions,” he said. “Now before I fight, I try to zone out everything and just focus on a fight. They taught me what to do to not to get overstressed, overtired and overheated – all those things can go against you in a fight. It was still very challenging, but it’s encouraging to win.”
The judoka also won a silver medal at another competition earlier this year.
Before heading to nationals, Bruneau will be competing at the Toronto Open in hopes of collecting another medal or two.
Bruneau said balancing school, home and judo takes a lot of effort.
“It’s a work in progress,” he said. “It is very hard to balance it all out. Either you have to commit yourself to one or the other, but you can’t really do that, either. But I’m keeping pace.”
Bruneau said he is going to work on technique and cardio conditioning in Hay River, and will travel back to Montreal before heading out west for nationals.
Though he now has many shiny reasons that may lead to overconfidence, he said coach Mario Desforges of Yellowknife, as well as his eastern coaches, help to keep him humble with an eye on the prize.
“I worked really hard to get those medals, but sometimes it still gets to my head,” he said. “After you win three medals from two competitions, it can. All I have to keep in mind is that I could still lose. My coaches help keep my attitude in check and good coaches keep you motivated. You could be a good fighter, but without a coach you might not be so successful.”