DJC @ The West of England Closed Championships
On Sunday the 10th of June Drake Judo Club were collectively gathered at Torbay Leisure Centre in Paignton for the 2018 Western Area Championships
On the day we had 30 entries, this the highest from any club competing. Last year we took 17 players so it was good to see a significant increase from the previous 12 months
The format had also changed this year, usually the competition has three categories, U12, U16, 16+ This year however it has been changed to bring it in-line with national events(Minors, Pre-cadets, Cadets and Seniors).
DJC had representatives in every category except cadets.
Coaching at Matside on the day we had Mike, Ross, Charles and Kate with Ros working in her capacity as a Contest Recorder for the Western Area.
The Championship was across a 3 mat area for the first time (this worked very well) and the day started off for us with Allan who was in a very large group. He had some tough contests but held his own and this competition represents a big step up from the minors category he has just graduated from. Allan is also an excellent footballer and has to juggle his training around both sports
Next up were DJC Club Captain Jack Murphy and DJC debutant Toby Morgan, both of whom were in different weight groups but found they had been combined, both won their first contests fairly easily and ended up facing each other in a highly competitive contest(Jack and Toby have been rivals since they were 8 years old, both are now 13) Jack picked up the victory but due to being in a higher weight class this didn't reflect Toby's position - Both became Area Champions taking gold medals. Jack also (based off the back of this performance) was immediately selected for the Western Area Team to compete at the national championships for the 2nd year running! - congratulations Jack
Next up was Olivia, who found herself in a group of older girls who were much more experienced, higher graded and heavier. Olivia only started Judo just over 12 months ago and has improved massively over that time, she had 3 extremely tough contests including one with the current British Champion. She took a bronze medal on the day. Bravo!
Maria was in arguably her toughest ever competition, she won her first contest with a lovely switch throw, followed by a huge Uchi Mata against neighbour Kia Butler from South Brent, she then fought a nationally medallist from Bristol and lost a close fight.
Her last contest was against a girl who had beaten her in 10 seconds last year, this girl is also a former British Champion and Maria gritted out and held her down for the win, unfortunately this meant all three girls were in gold medal position and had to fight off, Maria was unlucky with this and ended up with a bronze, not bad for her first individual competition at pre-cadet.
We then moved onto the Minors section.
First up was Will and Nate who were in a very strong group, Nate is still 2 years away from being classed as an official 'Minor' and Will has only just moved into the weight and is still finding his feet,
Will was first up against a lad from Torquay, Will is now used to fighting taller , stronger boys and took this contest to the ground where he held on for the win, a great start, he than took on the eventual winner and held his own longer than anyone else,
He then in his final contest took on the eventual silver medallist again losing a close one, The group was split across two pools and Will was in the larger of the two, meaning he wasn't able to make it out tWill is now training two times a week and by the end of the year should be settled at the weight in time for the National Championships, no medal today but a fantastic experience
Nate was giving away a lot of, age, height, weight and grade! this would be a huge step up in class for him, he performed very well winning his first contest convincingly followed by two draws which was slightly confusing as it resulted in re-matches under golden score which wasn't made clear, Nate then lost his next via Shido for illegal gripping and then won his final contest for a Bronze medal, a fantastic result.
Niamh and Pheebs were up next, in a very large group, Phoebe was her usual swashbuckling self cruising through her opening contests with her trademark hip throw, Niamh is another player for who this competition was a huge step up and she has improved massively over the last few months, Niamh has increased her training to two nights a week and this is paying large dividends for her, she took a very well deserved bronze medal, Phoebe progressed through the final where she took on a very tough opponent, after going to golden score, Phoebe's persistence paid off and she took gold and became Western Area champion.
George was next up in the Lightweight girls group, George is such a determined player and was fighting girls who were older, stronger and taller, not to mention much higher graded, she attacks non stop and a lot of girls find this hard to deal with. She won her first two contests fairly easily and then won her 3rd contest after her opponent was disqualified for not attacking. she then lost a very close decision in the final, taking a very very well deserved Silver medal
Lucy was in a number of close contests and needs to work on her self confidence, when confident she has wonderful flowing Judo and when not confident she doesn't express herself and tends to throw in the towel, despite this she is a National Medallist and took gold and became Western Area champion on the day, after having her group combined with the group below. Well done Lucy!
Alanna after being 'encouraged' by her matside coach, Alanna was on good form, though she went a wazari down in her first contest after being quite lethargic(which she has been a little guilty of in the past), after some more 'encouragement' she came back with a big Ippon, She then took on a much higher graded player and won very convincingly and then saved her best performance for the final where she defeated her long time rival TJ, she seemed pleased as she took gold to add to English Title she took a couple of weeks ago. Alanna is DJC's most decorated player and continues to have success at major competition.
Last up for the Girls was Lottie who had a best of three finals against a girl from Cornwall who has proved much stronger than her in the past, However that gap has closed significantly in recent times, Lottie was carrying a slight injury into the competition but performed very well and has developed new techniques recently and these appeared to be working, during the contests, her opponent had the slight advantage in strength and this proved to be the deciding factor, Lottie took a Silver medal to add to the English Open bronze she took 2 weeks ago.
Reuben stepped up next, Reuben has had a tough run of results lately and was getting a little down hearted, however after the Area training at Bath he has had a little reinvigoration and has begun to train like a trojan(especially on the ground) Reuben won all his contests very convincingly to become Western Area Champion, one of his biggest medals to date.
Bogdan was the last of the minors to take to the mat, at this point in the day the seniors had already started to compete too, Bogdan beat his first three opponents fairly easily, to progress through to the final, Bogdan is one of the best in the country at his age and weight, he is a national and English medallist, In the final Bogdan met one of his main rivals, a boy he has traded contest victories with, despite being the more attacking and technical he just lost out taking home the silver medal.
Now some 6 hours into the day we moved onto the senior section, which was split into two sections, Green belt and Below and then Blue Belt and above
First up were Corey and Jess who had to be combined as there were not enough players for separate categories, First up Jess took on Cordelia Gregory and did very well considering the difference in experience, Jess then took on Corey and again did very well for her level, Jess took a Bronze medal and a lot of encouragement moving forward, Corey had won her first and was then in the final against Cordelia, sadly the final did not last long as Corey's knee decided to pop out and she finished the day at A&E - no more competitions till after her wedding!
Over on Mat 3 Launceston Rob, Derek and Keiron were all in the same group, Kieron was making a return to competition after a number of years and was fighting in the seniors at just 14 years old! Keiron gave a very high account of himself against the full grown Men and came away with a very well deserved Bronze medal
Rob and Derek met in the final with Derek coming away with the victory both guys gave a great account of themselves and moving forward will be looking at a higher level of competition.
Dan was in THE toughest groups of the day, which included National Champions, International Champions and GBR Junior Internationals. Dan took to the task with his usual guile and managed to give these chaps a few things to think about, no medal for Dan on the day but it is these types of experiences which will help Dan prepare for his Black Belt contests, probably starting next year.
Dael was making his debut for DJC in a competition and had a best of 3, he attempted some very advanced techniques and had great energy and rhythm, it was disappointing that he only had one opponent and it will be better at his next competition to see him against other players, he took a sliver medal on the day.
Lastly we had recently married Rob Hutton who was fighting in an extremely competitive U66 Dan grade class, winning his first contest with Ura Nage, he narrowly lost out to a Junior GBR representative and took a really well earned bronze in a big group, Rob was very impressive and is a great addition to our coaching pool.
Overall we took 21 medals which was the most of any club at the competition which means the most out of the entire Western Area. Devon was also the top performing county on the day which means that the county retained the Peter Murphy Sword
We now look forward to the West of England Open which takes place in July
Also keep your eye out for exclusive video interviews from some of our players!