DJC @ The British Schools
Saturday the 13th and Sunday the 14th of March saw the British School Championships held at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield (the venue is used as a base for several Olympic programmes including the extremely successful GB boxing program)
Over 700 entrants across the two days were battling out to see who the best players in their respective school years were. Ordinarily national squad members were not allowed to attend but with the advent of the REDS this was not the case this year making it potentially one of the toughest schools competitions for a while.
DJC had entered 5 players, led by Captain Jack on the Saturday, Jack has been to a few schools competitions and so his experience was going to be key at this one.
The rest of our entrants were Reuben, Jake, Lottie and Maria all from our GEN1 players who apart from Lottie who fought at the schools last year were competing in their biggest competition ever.
Saturday Jack started on fire by taking his first contest, then his second, because the competition is so large the groups are decided by a straight knockout competition, this meant Jack made it through to the semi finals, he was unfortunate in his next two contests and just missed out on a Bronze but WA coach Simon Ward said it was the best he had seen Jack perform and to finish in 5th at this level of competition is a fantastic result.
Sunday was our younger players, all of whom had booked room and lodgings for the Saturday night, as the mini beast from the east started to descend so mad rushes took place to get to Sheffield including Jess and Reuben who had to be rescued by her Dad after they broke down
I myself set off at 4.30 Sunday morning in the new 4x4 Truck, some hairy moments ensued and speeds of over 40mph were non existent which meant I arrived at the venue at 10.30.
Sadly I missed Jake and Reuben's first fight both of which were very competitive, Jake just missing out to the eventual silver medalist in a group of over 25, Reuben too had the eventual silver medalist up first and just missed out,
A long wait for both for the reprecharge contests, Jake just lost out in the last few seconds of the contest after being a well deserved Wazari up meant a solid days performance and another national level experience for him, as usual he was disappointed but will be back having been richer for the experience.
Reuben had a tough contest too, he and his opponent were very well matched, both making attempts at big throws, Reuben was unlucky and just missed out in this contest but again was very disappointed but as I explained when you reach this level, experience and training are the key, Reuben will be back next year.
Time for a breather and a Mocha (thanks Andy) a chat with Lottie and the very nervous Maria(who had never entered a competition bigger than the Devon closed).
A quick check on progress of other Devon clubs was conducted at this point, Simon agreed the quality was much higher this year, Jack from Hoshi took Gold in the SN Schools Championship staged at the same time. Maddox who I was unable to coach as I arrived too late lost his first won his second but just missed out fighting for a bronze, TJ, Alanna's longtime rival and buddy from Truro club just missed out on a bronze and Jersey and a lad who's name i can't remember(he trains with Jake at Area stuff) both got a Bronze.
On then to our two girls, Lottie was up first having been training very hard for the event. Her group did look loaded with Charlie from Bradley Stoke and other girls who had been in the Nationals too. Lottie fought very well with her intensity something i had specifically asked her to up, she battled through to the Semi finals, where she narrowly lost to the overall silver medalist, she then fought for bronze against a very short girl. The contest almost went to full time with both girls out on their feet, Lottie again narrowly missing out and taking a credible 5th place, an improvement from her performance last year where she did not place
Up next was a VERY nervous Maria, who is described by her Dad Chris as a bit of a 'worrier' sometimes, well that should be changed to 'warrior' as after a bye in the first round, in her first contest she overwhelmed her opponent in 10 seconds, throwing and holding for ippon, she then met the eventual gold medalist in the Semi finals and was dominating but just misjudged her balance and ended up being held down. She then fought for bronze against fellow Devon Squad member Catilyn D'eath from Kingsley School, the contest finished with a turnover(that will please Mike) and a hold down which gave Maria a bronze medal and DJC its first Schools medal.
Maria hadn't even started Judo this time last year and has had good progress through to this point hopefully she will take part in the next REDS assessment day and take her place on the England Squad.
After medals and congratulations it was the drive home which saw roads and motorways being blocked etc, I saw a few abandoned cars on the side of the road, eventually making it home.
Andy and Lottie sadly had to spend the night in the car! No doubt discussions of future Judo plans wiled away a few of the hours!