DJC @ The Midland Area Age-Bands
Saturday the 26th of January saw the first area competition for our higher squad players, each BJA area hosts its own Open during the year where the best players from around the country congregate to compete
Informally we call this being ''on the circuit'' and this is the first year where our players are at a stage in their development where these competitions have a huge benefit moving forward
That being said we knew this would be another huge step up for our players and still very much the start of their journey competitive , after discussions with Mike prior i had set an optimistic pre-target of 1 medal before we left with more importance placed on effort and performance
We took a clutch 8 players from Drake and were joined by 2 more from SBJC on arrival,
This was also our first trip by minibus to a competition without parents(mostly) so it would be an interesting dynamic to see how the players(and we) coped
6.30am departure time from plymouth was actually very reasonable being based where we are and we made pretty good time getting to Walsall
First up after on the day after all the weigh ins was Jake who has made significant progress in recent months and has joined the REDS program for the first time this year, his first fight of the day was against the eventual gold medallist and Jake put in a very solid performance, he had a long wait for his second fight which was very close and he had large periods of dominating. Overall Jake gave an excellent account of himself and is improving week on week. Big tick for the first player of the day
Alanna and Olivia came next in the biggest group in the girls side and both put in very hard working performances, Alanna was very attacking and just got countered on a couple of throwing attempts, She was the youngest in the group but still did everything i asked of her
Olivia was a little frustrated as she continues to make very speedy progress, she had a long contest with a girl she beat at the nationals, just missing out this time and then against the eventual Silver medallist, by far the aggressor in both fights, this competition will be invaluable for experience moving forward. Patience is not an easy concept for a 13 year old but Liv is undoubtedly a fine wine player
Ellie Porter was then up and produced a very polished and professional performance, in her first contest against a player from Bishop Stortford she went a Wazari up and then her opponent was disqualified on shido's after constant pressure from Ellie. She then took care of her next opponent with ease and this moved into the crossover where she again produced a fantastic performance to beat a girl from East Yorkshire and moved into the final where she was extremely dominant attempting virtually all the attacks which resulted in her opponent playing the edge and Ellie lost on Shido's but came away with a very well deserved Silver medal
We then had Bogdan and Reuben enter the fray, Bogdan who is looking to move down a weight group moving forward used the experience to try and be more aggressive something he knows he needs to work on, he had three fights, his first was a spirited effort which didn't quite go the way he wanted, he then beat a player from Kingsley School and then finished up losing in his next contest and finished with a 5th place.
Reuben was back only a week after having his cast from his hand removed and this proved to be a little decisive, Reuben is another player who is improving week to week, his problems with gripping in this competition proved to be significant though both of his contests were very close affairs with some questionable refereeing decisions but he can be very proud of his efforts and we look forward to his next appearance.
Next up was JJ who has only been doing Judo for around 8 months coming through our link at Plymstock School, JJ is still only a 3rd mon and every other player was at least a 10th mon in her group, she had three contests the first 2 were extremely close and JJ fought like a tiger putting the other girls under pressure, she finished the day with a big win and secured herself a 5th place. We had entered JJ to as assess where her development is and this was another big tick
Lastly came Maria and Charlotte who due to Charlotte moving up a weight group found themselves both in the U52 category,
Maria's first contest was over in about 10 seconds after switching from left to right to left again this resulted in a big Ippon win, Lottie was fighting a National Medallist in her first contest and came so very close with two huge attacks but just missed out but it seemed 52's may suit her, Maria then faced the British Champion in her second fight giving the girl some problems before losing out on a counter, Lottie then beat her next opponent with a throw, Ne-Waza combination and this then put her into the bronze medal match against... Maria
The last contest for both girls was what i like to call a 'club contest' which means that they are usually quite a dull affair as players are very familiar and so this turned out to be with Maria taking bronze. Fantastic performances from both girls and a well deserved bronze for Maria
Pierre from South Brent was also in action in a very tough group, Pierre as usual displayed very flowing Judo and very good movement, today just wasn't his day but he gave 100%
Maddox from South Brent was also in action and had a tough day but took the eventual gold medallist in his first fight deep into the contest time and gave the player some problems, I've never seen someone avoid an Ura Nage like Maddox, it may be something i have to ask about! his next contest was unfortunate as he got caught off balance which happens to the best of us but still lots of positives to take from the day.
Will Humphrey from Cornwall also fought well and picked up a Bronze
After that medals were given out and everyone piled back onto the bus for the long ride home
Many thanks to Andy who did all of the driving and survived two breakdowns(nothing serious just the computer on the bus not working) Jess who was the trip organiser and constantly counted heads to makes sure no-one was left behind and Dan who supported everyone the whole trip