This won’t be judoka Mason Bruneau’s first trip to nationals but it may be the most important for his career.
“This is my last year as a youth plus-100kg and it’s my chance to shine,” he told The Hub last week after coming back from a win at the 2015 Atlantic Championships in New Brunswick. “I have the experience, the size, and the determination to arrive on the podium this year.”
Bruneau will be headed to the 2015 National Championships in May in Quebec, but while he will be competing in his own category for the last time, he will also be testing his skills in the adult division.
“It’s the big leagues, seniors, but I have been holding my ground against the older and more experienced veterans this year and I have collected two golds and one silver already this year,” he said. “I will be participating in two categories this year at nationals and that’s a first for me.”
From there, Bruneau said he has no plans to retire and will likely have to move away from Hay River to pursue a career in judo. His mother, Yvette Bruneau, said that she will support her son in his endeavours as far as she can, but laments what she calls a lack of support for individual sports from the federal government.
“Mason has no-one here to train with. Nobody is big and strong like Mason. His coach Mario lives in Yellowknife. So when Mason goes to fight at a competition he is the underdog because all these other athletes train five times a week or more,” she said. “That is the reason that he must move away for further opportunities.”
All the same, Yvette said she wouldn’t have it any other way. She said Mason loves the NWT and that she is proud of the person he has become as a result of the sport.
“For me, it’s actually a pretty simple thing,” Mason said of his experience as an athlete. “No matter how big or small the competition is, it’s to never give up. I use that for every competition I go to and I wouldn’t say I mastered that lesson yet, but it is so important to never give up that tenacity, whether I am fighting the guy ranked last or first you have to fight the same way and that’s to win.”
Mason said that while he knows he will likely have to move away, he’s not making any decisions just yet.
“I am looking at options that would be best for me, but one step at a time,” he said. “I need to arrive on the podium in both categories and then I will see where the wind blows me next.”