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  • Writer's pictureRoss Taylor

DJC @ The Western Area Schools Championships

Sunday the 21st of October saw DJC travel to Weston Super Mare to compete in the British Schools Qualifier event, the Western Area Schools Championships.

We had the dubious number of 13 entrants for this years competition, hopefully this wouldn't prove to be a bad omen

First up we had Erin(who got bronze at this event last year) and Schools Championship debutant Niamh who was stepping up to this level for the first time.

Both girls had first round wins, Niamh had a nice victory with Osae Komi Waza, both girls then had 2nd round wins which put them into the final together, the result being Erin took the victory, so first group of the day and Drake had taken gold and silver! - Erin taking her first schools title and Niamh proving she very much belongs at this level!

Joe 'The Strut' Walker was our only boy at this age range with Nate missing through injury, Joe has had a successful year overcoming injury and steadily progressing through the red & yellow belt circuit

He was one of the youngest and the lowest graded competitors in his group and lost out to the eventual gold medallist by a whisker and it easily could have gone the other way, in the bronze medal final he produced his signature big koshi waza ippon ,

Next up we had Phoebe who of course was coming off the back of a 5th place at the British Championships and had a first contest against Ellie Shipp from SBJC, Ellie and Phoebe have had some wonderful contests over the last couple of years, both are very competitive and intense, Phoebe won a close contest by Wazari, both girls gave away a couple of small penalties, other contests were straight forward and Phoebe successfully defended her title from 2017

Bogdan was up next in a series of contests against a very defensive Judoka who he has had problems with in the past, however his intensity levels increased at this event and he implemented more Ne-Waza into his offense which looked good. He came away with a gold medal in his weight and will get a priority entry into the National Schools competition.

Alanna had a similar situation to Bogdan, being matched with old rival TJ despite both being in different weight groups, Alanna's judo is developing at the moment and a growth spurt has complicated matters, Alanna came away with gold again to ensure she continues her very successful year, no doubt more to come from Alanna this year

Next came arguably one of the most competitive groups in the whole competition, Girls U48kgs in the west contains probably some of the top girls in the entire country, Lottie our established player at this weigh was joined by Ellie Porter who was returning to Judo after a nearly 2 year absence, Ellie is Captain of our Plymstock School satellite club and returned to judo this May and then proceeded to break her collar bone 2 weeks later when training with Maria, 8 weeks of rehab later and she has had 2 months of training approx. Ellie first up took on Koga, a Japanese girl from Swindon club who has been like a whirlwind through Western Judo. Ellie though gave her a very competitive contest, launching several close attacks and just getting caught with an ashi waza, she then took on Holly Morris from Bristol who is also one of the best girls in the country at her weight and again this was another close contest which produced some lovely attacks from Ellie(who looks right at home in this company)

Lottie stepped up had a battle with Koga outgripping her Japanese opponent at at one point looking like she might catch her in Ne-waza,she then followed this with a short contest against Holly where no doubt more lessons will be learnt, this then led to the inevitable contest between Ellie and Lottie, they have trained with each other a lot recently and this can sometimes make a more tactical contest as the players are more familiar with each other and so it proved with no score after full time, 2 lots of golden score were required and in the end the contest was decided by 1 penalty giving the decision to Lottie. Both girls took a well earned bronze, Ellie hit all the markers that the coaching team wanted her too at this event and after being back effectively for only 6 weeks this was a triumph(despite what she said herself!)

Next up was Liv who has been the epitome of the term 'fast tracked' having started Judo slightly later than her peers, she has been racing through gradings and having to enter competitions which have included much more experienced girls than herself, however she has picked up numerous medals this year including a Kent International honour, she had a tough day with some very tough contests but always gives 110% and what she is lacking for in experience makes up in intensity, her last contest was a well earned victory which gave her a bronze medal, which as there was a miss communication meant Liv left before the medals were presented!

Next up was Maria who was making her debut at a new weight group of U52's and was defending her title from last year, being the bottom of the weight meant Maria's opponents were mostly taller and bigger than her but her contests ended being pretty straightforward, she utilised Ne-Waza very well, winning two of her contests with a wazari throw and then a turnover into ne-waza, Gold then for Maria which gives her priority entry into the National schools where she took a bronze medal earlier this year.

Then came Reuben, who has had a very successful year so far but today was a big ask as he has come up a couple of weight groups with a growth spurt and was the youngest in the group, Rueben produced some wonderful techniques especially a lovely Ura-Nage which proved very successful, he was ahead in all his contests and was very very unlucky not to take a medal but the last 6 months has seen some real progress from him.

We were now into the business end of the competition and this meant the older boys and girls, we had two entrants, Captain Jack and Callum, Jack was carrying a rather bizarre injury as the previous night he had slept on his hand which had become wedged down the side of his bed! this was making gripping a virtual impossibility, he was therefore a little disadvantaged to say the least in his first contest as he had try and use counter throws only, which he did very well scoring Wazari but despite being ahead on shidos by the end of the contest he lost in golden score and had to then retire from the event injured. However more to come from Jack over the next 12 months no doubt

Last up was Callum who again came to judo a little later and has had a HUGE growth spurt over the last 12 months making him over 6ft tall means he has had to learn and adapt fast, he has also been training with the seniors on and off too, indeed he beat a senior player for the first time a couple of weeks ago in Cornwall, Callum had 3 contests which he won all of, doing some beautiful sutemi waza, making good use of his long legs and then also scoring with Yoko Shio Gatame giving him gold and an automatic entry into next years British Schools Championships

An all round successful day in Weston Super Mare then with our tally of:-

Gold: 6

Silver: 1

Bronze: 4

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