Judo skills may have saved medalist’s life

By CURTIS J. PHILLIPS, Connect Weekly

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The sport of judo has played an important role in the life of Laurie Wiltshire. She started out with the Fort McMurray YMCA Judo Club at age 10 in 1993, before transferring over to Fort McMurray’s Ni-Ten Judo Club in 1995.

Wiltshire would go on to become a member of Canada’s senior national team from 2002 -2012, where she was national champion in -52 kilogram class from 2005, until 2012 with an unprecedented eight national titles.

Today, she returns to her hometown of Fort McMurray for the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games, as an assistant coach on Team Alberta’s judo team. As previously mentioned, judo has played an important role in the life of Laurie Wiltshire. A few weeks back, it may have saved her life.

Wiltshire recalls the incident, in question, that occurred in her current city of residence – Calgary, Alberta.

“I was out taking my dog (Maya, a terrier mix) for a walk when a dog got out of its yard… a Rottweiler or Pit Bull type dog… and it came at us,” Wiltshire explained. “So, I picked up Maya and I stepped back.”

“I did not realize that I had stepped back onto the road and a pickup truck, probably going 30 (kilometres per hour) or so, hit me on my left side. I was thrown a bit, probably three or four feet,” said Wiltshire.

She continues, “I did not realize that I had stepped back onto the road and a pickup truck, probably going 30 (kilometres per hour) or so, hit me on my left side. I was thrown a bit, probably three or four feet. Luckily, it was nothing serious just a bad (left) knee and some road rash. Having learnt how to fall (through judo) really helped. I tucked and landed on my side. I think a lot of people would have hit their head without the knowhow on how to fall properly.”

Due to the accident, Wiltshire has been limited to on matt instruction, as she undergoes physio therapy. Retired from competition in the summer of 2012, she began coaching at the club level in 2000 and was named Judo Alberta assistant coach in September of the same year.

This past year, she has filled the role of interim high performance coach for Judo Alberta and has enjoyed the transition to coach from athlete.

“It has been an eye-opener. You just imagine what they do and once you have those responsibilities, you realize that it was much more than just ‘coaching’. It’s all the background stuff. It’s a lot more than I thought it would have been,” she said.

Wiltshire, 31, told Connect Weekly a few years back: “I sacrificed a lot, while in judo. I put off school for a long time and sacrificed a lot in money definitely. We trained at national training centre seven times a week plus cardio and weight training.”

Of the difference now, she shares the focus is on her students.

“It has definitely changed. I’m not sacrificing of myself now, I am sacrificing for the kids.”

Believe it or not, having globetrotted the world thanks to judo – Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, England, France, Lebanon, Mexico, South Korea, Thailand, USA, Venezuela, this will be Wiltshire’s first-time ever competing in her hometown of Fort McMurray, as the opportunity never presented itself in the past. And what a stage to perform on, the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games.

“It is going to be fantastic,” she enthused. “We have a team that has good experienced. I am proud of what I have done and where I came from – Fort McMurray. love everything about the sport.”

– Connect Weekly –