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  • Writer's pictureRoss Taylor

DJC @ The Northern Ireland Open (Ronin Charlotte)

Andy & Lottie made the short plane ride over to Londonderry at the weekend to compete in the minors section of the Northern Ireland Open, Andy has kindly written a report and taken a few photos below:-

Northern Ireland Open 2018

As the dust settles on this weekend, I’ve had opportunity to reflect on quite an interesting weekend for Team Hay (this was whilst I was unpicking Lottie’s back patch in preparation for next weekend!). It was a weekend of firsts.

First up was the rush to Exeter airport after Saturday LC training to catch a mid afternoon flight. First time that an event has called for air transport which rather takes this judo taxi malarkey to new heights!

Lottie hasn’t flown since she was 2 years old, so this trip was a rather nervous one. Once we had bounced down Belfast City airport’s runway and reached the terminal building, she had settled into normal mode: eyes firmly fixed on her electronic child minder. A simple drive in a vaguely north western direction got us to Londonderry. The journey took us through pretty (and not so pretty) villages, Snowdonia-esque hill country and lots of roadwork's.

After finding a nice restaurant for supper, it was back to the trusty Travelodge for an early night. Some hope as madam had now decided that the nice new deep pile carpet would be a lovely gymnasium and so she insisted upon doing a routine of hand stands that would have made Corey proud! I put it down to the biggest chip I have ever seen that she had for supper.

With a weigh in schedule of 11:30; it was a nice lazy start to competition day. Whilst we were waiting in the weigh in queue, the next first of the weekend was going on at the Interclub. It was the first time that we had both Hay siblings competing in different events simultaneously. We did get some strange looks as the text updates were coming through. I guess this is something that we might have to get used too. In similar vein, weighing in to the U44 is also something that Lottie has to get used too as well.

Lottie bumped into the McMurray kids from Kingsley and all was well. Amie and Lottie went off to warm up and I settled into watch the Pre-cadets and Cadets in action. The standard was at the top of the chart.

The entry list, published before the event, only had 1 girl in the Minors U44 group, but when the group went up on the wall, Lottie found herself in a group of 4 which included a 13th Mon (blue belt) and a 11th Mon (green belt). Fighting green belts is another thing Lottie is going to have to get used too.

Getting off to a good start is one of Lottie’s challenges at the moment; as is fighting girls a lot shorter than she is. So as Lady Luck would have it, the green belt was up first. It was pretty obvious that she was the strongest in the group and had won the event before. A slip which got a weak waza-ari but a quick transition into osaekomi meant that Lottie took a disappointing loss. She was pretty upset with herself afterwards, but the somewhat lax matside restrictions meant that I could give her a bit of a pep talk and try to get her to refocus.

After lot of U36, U40 & U48 matches, Lottie’s

second fight was against the blue belt and we’d worked out that this would be for the silver medal. As Lottie rei’d on, she was clearly back to her normal self and so it proved with an o-uchi attack getting initially an ippon score before being downgraded to a waza-ari. (It was clearly an ippon when we watched the video back later, ho hum.) A momentary lapse, let her opponent in for a weak counter score, before seconds later Lottie’s favourite Tai-otoshi got her a second waza-ari and the win.

With confidence fully restored, Lottie relaxed, meaning that the third fight lasted barely 4 seconds; with a Tai-otoshi getting the Ippon. It was the only ippon throw in the group and gained Lottie the second place on the podium.

As Amie McMurray won a gold medal and her brother, Zach, won a bronze; it was a good day for the Western Area judoka. The event ran roughly on schedule and was very well managed. The locals and those from south of the border were all extremely friendly.

We retired back to the trusty Travelodge after a rather surreal experience in the local Chinese restaurant. It was obviously popular, but listening to the Owner singing Elvis songs in a karaoke style was something else! The blue belt from Lottie’s group also happened to be sitting on the next table and it was lovely to chat with her parents (they came up from “down South”) after dinner.

Another first on our return as it was the first time that Lottie had an “off school” pass from her college. They have been incredibly supportive of Lottie’s judo ever since she started at Tavistock College last September. Allowing her to travel home on Monday gave us some good flight options and made the event achievable.

It also allowed us to take the scenic route back to Belfast, getting as far as the Giant’s Causeway before time marched on. The journey gave us a chance to reflect on the event, the InterClub and all the crazy judo activities we seem to have got ourselves into. Lottie was keen to come back next year, so the place must have made an impression on her.

As an aside, one of the main reasons we are doing all this travelling this year, Lottie’s last year as a minor, is that we can work out all the logistics for these events for next year when she moves up to Pre-cadet. Hopefully, we can pass on this knowledge to others in the club to make the judo journey a little smoother for our next generation of players.

Getting home in time to collect Fran from school was another bonus, before the back patch unpicking began and the judogi could be washed in readiness for next weekend’s BJC Open Championships in Kettering.

No rest for the wicked on this judo merry-go-round.

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