By Fabrice Samedy
With the loss of two family members and COVID-19 restricting the chance to gather and grieve, it’s certainly been a tough year overall for the Takahashi clan.
It was impossible to escape some of the sombreness as the Ottawa Sports Awards chose the Takahashi family as the winners of the Mayor’s Cup for outstanding contribution to sport in Ottawa.
“Our thoughts are with the family, including the eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, as we recognize their accomplishments and celebrate their stories,” the Sports Awards organizing committee wrote in detailing the Takahashis’ lengthy legacy of leadership, dedication and performance in combat sports locally and well beyond.
The Ottawa chapter of the family’s story begins when Royal Canadian Air Force member Masao and wife June Takahashi founded Takahashi Dojo in 1969, as a way to teach and compete in judo, and promote Japanese culture in Ottawa.
Their children Phil, Allyn, Ray, and Tina all became black belts themselves and spread excellence in the community, while their grandchildren continue to excel nationally and internationally in wrestling, judo, sambo and other combat sports.
Within the first half of 2020, Masao (at age 90) and Phil (at 63) both died.
Masao was a judo official at the 1976 Summer Olympics, while Phil represented Canada in judo at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.
June, who also worked at Judo Canada, had an Olympic connection as well, coaching Cameroon’s Francoise Nguele in 2000.
Canada’s first major international judo champion, 1984 FISU World Student Games gold medallist Tina was also Canada’s first women’s Olympic judo coach for the 1988 Games.
Ray, a 16-time national champion, was named to three Olympic teams and placed fourth in 1984. The Commonwealth Games champ later became a coaching legend with the London-Western Wrestling Club.
In his career, Allyn won multiple provincial, regional and American judo medals.
The Takahashi Dojo remains a city landmark on Melrose Avenue in Hintonburg, and the family’s reach extends well beyond their own accomplishments (two-time Paralympian and sport leader Tony Walby is but one example).
Tina also now runs a club in Nepean, Tina Takahashi Martial Arts & Fitness, which of course has also proved difficult during the pandemic.
“It’s been up and down,” acknowledges Tina, but the Ottawa Sports Awards honour did provide a lift after a rough year.
“I feel very honoured and very happy to be recognized as a whole family,” adds the 2016 Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame inductee. “We dedicated our whole life to judo and martial arts. It felt great and I was really happy, proud and grateful.”
Read more on the Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement Award winners via: https://ottawasportspages.ca/2021/01/30/profiles-on-ottawa-sports-awards-lifetime-achievement-honourees-chenard-loucks-sherratt-takahashis-and-who-could-have-been-ottawas-2020-athlete-of-the-year/
—with files from Martin Cleary