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  • Writer's pictureRoss Taylor

DJC @ The English Open (Minors)

The English Minors Championships represents one of the biggest challenges that our judoka could face. Win a gold medal and you have the right to consider yourself the best in England! And so it was that some of our Gen1 players sacrificed the opportunity to have a Masterclass with Karen Briggs to travel north up the M5 (again) to Kidderminster to the home of Samurai Judo Club.

The journey up country was uneventful, in spite of the tales of doom on the radio traffic announcements. At least it’s one of the benefits of living here: the 40 mile tailbacks were going in the other direction!

With a late weigh-in, it was hoped that the whole thing would be wrapped up by 5pm. Some hope that turned out to be. The last contests were completed at 6:50pm!

First up, leading from the front as befits our Junior Male Judoka of the Year 2017, Bodgan was looking to overcome a couple of players whom he met at the British Nationals last year. The first two fights didn’t go so well, with Bodgan seeming to be more focussed on his hand position (the last LC session must have been ringing in his mind) and was over thinking. A relaxed and chilled persona appeared for his last fight: and so did the win! A bronze medal and some things to think about (not during a fight though) but a great effort.

After a lengthy delay, all the girls groups were called together, with our pride of lionesses looking after newbie Skyla, for her first competition at this level.

In weight order; Lottie cut a relaxed and focussed figure in the U44’s. First up was DeeDee from South Brent with whom honours are about even. Lottie didn’t let her settle and after a few sighters, got her range right with her tai otoshi and got the ippon. Unfortunately, DeeDee suffered from a painful leg injury in a later fight and took no further part in the day. We hope that she is back on the tatami soon. Lottie’s second went to golden score, but the result was the same in the end with an ippon throw. Two down and two wins. Next up was a girl from Bishop Stortford who beat Lottie in 26 seconds last time; it went to time with a waza-ari the only difference this time. Progress. The final fight was against the current U40 National Champion and winner of the London Open last weekend, recently having stepped up a weight group. A tired Lottie succumbed to a good seio nage throw, but can hold her head high as she was well in the mix. Another bronze medal to the collection.

Skyla was debuting at this level in the U48’s. With a significant experience and grade deficit, it would have been understandable if Skyla was apprehensive, but if she was, it didn’t show on the tatami. Adopting an “in your face” strategy (with more than a hint of Tigger), Skyla got the first throw in in two fights getting scores, but eventually the greater experience of her adversaries told. Giving Caitlyn, who is no push over, from Kingsley School a couple of tough bouts was a good way to announce yourself in front of both Western Area (South) Coaches. Welcome to the big league Skyla! The bronze medal is a great reward for your efforts!

Lucy and Alanna ended up in a combined U52 & U57 group. Lucy perhaps had the hardest task of the day with three strong girls, including one of the darlings of Rush Judo, Nicole Wood (current U48 British Schools Champion, amongst other accolades). Alanna came up against her longtime adversary TJ from Kazoku Judo Club. With the combined group it was difficult to keep up with what was going on, especially when the top 3 U52 girls were tied on points and facing a fight off for the medals. Lucy tried a rather counter intuitive method of motivation, perhaps knowing that this would be a tough experience, but gamely battled to take a bronze medal home.

Alanna dominated the tatami against TJ and took out the battle of the U57’s to bag a gold medal and become English Open Champion. Well done Alanna!

Another successful day for Drake Judo Club with one gold and 4 bronzes from our five judoka. Lots of positive vibes from the organisers about our judoka and club which was unexpected.

Big thank you to Charles and Ros for matside coaching, in and amongst the chaos matside. I am sure that they will have a few notes to bring to coaching sessions soon.

With some outstanding judo on display, it’s going to be fascinating to see our Gen1 judoka kick on and go head to toe with their opponents as they move into Pre-cadets in September

But that’s in the future … but what a future that will be

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