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  • Writer's pictureRoss Taylor

DJC @ The Sportif International Tournament & Camp

Sportif International Tournament and Camp

With the Sportif relocating from Edinburgh for 2018 and having missed out on the Kent International last year, Lottie was keen to experience an International competition. With the added bonus of a training camp after the competition, it was off to London for Team Hay over the Easter weekend. The Sportif International is a highly regarded competition, with teams from Canada, France, Portugal, the USA and many other nationalities present. The competition was oversubscribed weeks before the entry deadline.

For the first time at a competition, Mum was in the cheerleading squad. Little Sis, Fran, was also present to provide distraction when necessary!

Following our rather epic return from the British Schools Championships in Sheffield a few short weeks ago, a rather leisurely plan was hatched to journey up on Good Friday. We dropped the car with Nanny & Grandad and then let the train take the strain on the final stretch into London village.

With a very civilised 1.30pm weigh in on Saturday afternoon and a late 4:45pm start on mat 1, a short spin around the Westfields Shopping Centre whiled away a few hours. A hop onto the DLR and we were at the venue, aptly named “Sportsdock”, adjacent to the old London docks, opposite London City Airport and located within the University of East London campus. The action was in full swing with 4 mats of pre-cadet contests underway when we arrived.

As we’d rather misjudged the speed of the DLR, so we were under a bit of pressure to get weighed in and without surprise; Lottie’s growth spurt meant a change of weight category. Time to face life in the under 44kg group! Once we saw the final draw, we realised that all the other girls had also recently changed weights too as all 4 of the medallists from last year’s Minor’s Nationals in Cardiff had all gone up. It was going to be a tough ask as it was those 4 medallists and Lottie. Even more so, the organisers had combined the group with 2 under 48kg players.

And so it proved. The day was one for learning and taking on the experience in her first competition at this weight. With the way the draw worked out, Lottie found herself in the semi-final against last year’s National Champion. Lottie took the fight to her but got caught and held, missing out on the opportunity to get into the final, but taking away a bronze medal as a reward. Drake Judo Club had it’s first Sportif International medal and what a medal it is!

After a day of recovery, Lottie’s next task was to take on the intense International Training Camp. The coaching team for which was a veritable who’s who of the judo world. With the Performance Coaches from France, Spain, Portugal and Canada, together with our own Nekoda Smythe-Davis helping out on the first day and Neil Adams on the second, it was going to be tough.

Each day was structured with a standing randori session in the morning followed by a short technique session prior to a long break whilst the cadets & juniors had their turn. After lunch, it was time for newaza randori and another technique session. The technique sessions were interesting in that each of the coaches demonstrated a technique and then each judoka could choose one to try. With 5 different techniques (each from a different nationality!) on display, it was fascinating to see the focus from each country.

Unfortunately, Lottie wasn’t well enough to go on the tatami for the second day – perhaps having pushed herself too far on the first day - but that wasn’t going to stop her getting Neil Adams’ signature on her Belt of Champions before we started the return journey.

A few short days of rest with Nanny & Grandad for Lottie, before the next Regional England Development Squad session at Dartford Judo Club next Saturday - another 500 mile round trip for Dad!

Will we do this again? Yes, as it’s a fantastically well organised competition and camp. The coaching team are right at the top of the game and all really engaged with the needs of younger judoka. It was illuminating watching the high grade (brown & black belt) cadets and juniors during their sessions. The quality of judo on display throughout all sessions was superb and awe inspiring.

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