(Montreal) Antoine Bouchard will officially hang up his competitive judogi at the Montreal Pan American Open on November 18th and 19th. The Quebecer, who just won the bronze medal (73 kg) at the Pan American Games in Santiago, will use the opportunity to take the final lap on the tatami mat in front of family and friends at the Pierre-Charbonneau Center.
“I have been training since I was young and my goal is to be the best. After coming back from my second shoulder surgery in January, I saw that I would never be at the same level as before to make it to the Olympics (in Paris), which was my goal. It’s my decision, instead of dragging it out forever,” the future retiree notes lucidly.
In an international career spanning a decade, the 29-year-old has competed in five senior world championships and two editions of junior world championships, in addition to being crowned Pan American champion three times. His greatest success, however, remains the fifth place at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in the category up to 66 kg.
“The longevity of my career is one of the aspects I am most proud of. THE top, it was the Olympic Games where I achieved my best result ever. I look back and I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved. I was 20th in Rio before the tournamente out of 22 athletes and I managed to get one top 5. »
From a human point of view, what he’s taking away are the bonds he’s built with his coaches over the years, from his local club, to the Quebec team, to the national training center.
“They are all extremely passionate people who wanted to win as much as I did, if not more. That’s the beauty of sports and people like that. We are lucky to have an astronomical amount of them in judo! »
Known for his unorthodox judo style, Antoine Bouchard was finally able to put it to use. “People are not used to fighting that style. This was sometimes a problem for my coaches who were scratching their heads trying to find what could complement it. When I was training judo in Jonquière, my coach Roger Tremblay told me that I had a very wrong style. At first he tried to change me, but then over time he pushed me down that path. Let’s just say it’s been a bit of a trademark of mine over the years. »
Antoine Bouchard left his mark not only at the high level of sports, but also at school. When he moved to Montreal to improve his sport, his parents promised him that he would continue his studies. The years have passed, and he is still in school today: pursuing a doctorate in biochemistry at the University of Quebec in Montreal.
“That has always been important to me and I was lucky to have people who allowed me to combine studies and judo. In these two areas you need persistence, consistency and you have to be methodical. I managed to develop these qualities in judo and at school. »
Another project that he will realize in addition to his studies in the coming months will be a multidisciplinary work practice in Judo Canada.
“It’s a somewhat logical next step for me. I have been fortunate to have passionate coaches and I want to get back into the sport and share my expertise with the athletes. It will be an exciting experience! » continues Bouchard, who is also training for the Advanced Coaching Diploma.
Nicolas Gill, General Manager and Director of High Performance at Judo Canada, is delighted with Bouchard’s motivation to give back to her sport.
“He has always shown an interest in getting involved, especially lending a helping hand to his club in Jonquière. We want to show him another side of our sports organization,” claims Gill, who adds that several former athletes, including himself, have remained loyal to their national federation.
“This has great added value. If we can keep our former athletes involved, they bring a unique expertise and there is a big part of their integration that is much easier, with their understanding of the community. »
Antoine Bouchard will be honored at his local club on Saturday, November 25, as part of the Judokas Jonquière charity dinner.