The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is Inspiring Inclusion, something that resonates with one Swift Current judoka after years of competing.  

Nancy Filteau entered the sport at 11-years-old closely following in her brother's footsteps and making waves as a woman striving to grasp a medal from the Olympics.

Over the years she was involved in 12 Canadian National Judo Championships, placing second in her first international experience at the 1980 Canada Cup. 

After a long career she married her husband in 1985 and retired from competitive judo to start growing her family. At that time, entering the international multi-sport event wasn’t yet plausible. 

“I had a different pathway than most, because although judo was in the Olympics since 1962, it was men only,” Filteau said. "Then in 1988, that's when women's judo became a demonstration sport.”   

While she didn’t qualify to enter that year, it kickstarted a journey to return to her passion; in 1993 she decided she wasn’t quite finished with judo yet.  

Filteau returned to the sport as a mother and wife, putting in the work to qualify first on the national team, and was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame on June 20, 1992.

She placed ninth out of 24 competitors four years later in the Summer Olympics.  

“People should never underestimate themselves,” said Filteau. “You have to have confidence and believe in yourself so you can attain your goals. There's a lot of naysayers out there; over the years I had a lot of naysayers that said, 'You'll never do this,’ or ‘You'll never do that,’ or ‘You can't do that because you're a woman.’ I did what I could even though they told me I wasn't going to be able to do it. And I showed them that I could do it.”  

For the first time in Olympic history, the International Olympic Committee has distributed quota places equally to female and male athletes for the 2024 games; it wasn't until 2012 that women competed in every sport on the Olympic programme. 

Filteau has returned to her roots now living on her family farm and is head instructor for the Swift Current Judo Club.