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  • Writer's pictureRoss Taylor

DJC @ Western Area Schools Qualifiers

Nine of the Drake Judo Junior Squad (and Ella watching under cover of her Drake Hoodie), plus the requisite number of supporters together with Ross and Mike, took electronic devices and sat in a very cold leisure centre at Western Super Mare for an interminable length of time. Man, it was cold. First competition of the year too. For some, it was an early start and for others it was a return to the venue of the Western Area training the weekend before. Either way, Team DJC hit the M5 northbound in numbers!

For those that don’t know how the Schools Judo system works; not only are the judoka grouped by their weight (boys and girls cannot fight each other either), they are banded into school year groups. So years 4 & 5 fight together, years 6 & 7 together: you get the picture. This means that some of the usual competition are in different year groups but gives everyone a real indication of how they are doing in a much narrower age band; rather than the usual group of ages from 8 to 12.

To add a little more spice to the affair, anyone getting on the top two steps on the podium in from year 6 upwards, gets priority entry into the National Schools Championships (assuming they make the minimum grade requirement). For years 4 & 5, there is no access to the National Schools Championships, but are able to compete as a development event; just for a bit of practice.

The judoka and the coaches actually came for some judo and after the usual weighing in shenanigans, they got to do some. First up were the Year 4 & 5 judoka; Phoebe, Alanna, Bodgan, Edgar and Will. With some rather noisy support located perfectly between the two mat areas, our judoka gave a great display. All had a few ups and downs but Alanna came out on top in a combined weight group to bring home a gold medal. Bogdan produced arguably the ippon of the day with an uchi mata but an earlier defeat meant a silver medal. Will obviously had his shredded wheat (* other cereals are available) for brekkie and produced a couple of great ouchi gari throws to pick up some good wins, but in a huge group, this wasn’t enough to medal. A 5th was still a superb result. Edgar and Phoebe also had tough groups and it wasn’t to be this time. There were lots of positives to take away from this event for each of our younger judoka.

After a further delay, the year 6 & 7 judoka got their chance. Lottie was in a straight battle with another girl and attacked with gusto, but ended up on the wrong side of a couple of counter throws. She still got her silver medal and a few hard learned lessons. Jake had an ippon throw that reverberated around the hall, disallowed due to a controversial over the shoulder grip – something the coaching team took note of – and unfortunately, didn’t get the reward that his performance deserved. Rueben also came up against an old foe and also didn’t get the reward that his efforts should have either. Both can hold their heads high as a job well done.

Unfortunately due to an injury which made one tatami area unusable, poor Jack had to wait hours and hours before his group was called. With a solid band of noisy supporters, Jack got stuck in and grafted for a silver medal.

A little match rustiness was evident as was a few technical issues that the coaching team will work on over the coming weeks. From what I overheard, Ross and Mike have a long list of “to dos” and there will be a step up in intensity on its way!

That said, what a great return from the first event of 2017: one gold; 3 silvers and some notable 5ths & 7ths. For some, the competitions come thick and fast of the coming weeks: a split team at the Truro Yellow belt event in Bodmin and the Midland Age Bands in Walsall; followed by the Devon Closed Championships – which will see the return to the tatami of the Dad Squad!

Go team DJC. Get. A. Grip.

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