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  • Writer's pictureRoss Taylor

Success at the Commonwealth Championships 2019

Over the last 8 months DJC had been preparing for the Commonwealth Championships being hosted in Walsall. A rare opportunity for some of our players to be able to represent their country in an international competition.

The tournament itself was hosted over 5 days at the University of Wolverhampton, with DJC having competitors on 4 out of the 5 days.

Over 1000 athletes had entered across all categories, which included players from the home nations and further afield, including India, New Zealand, South Africa, Trinidad, Malta, Singapore, Australia and many smaller nations too. It was to be the first experience of this type of competition for many of our players, the excitement was palpable.


Day 1 saw both Max and Cordelia Gregory and Cerys Callard competing in the Junior division. This was always going to be a challenging section as most of the visiting nations had brought their number 1 fighters. As countries like India, for example, has a population of over 1 billion citizens, this was going to be a tough ask.

Max Gregory

Max is a full time funded GB athlete and this really did show. His fights, in my humble opinion, were completely clinical and at no point did he look in anyway vulnerable. Max is the current British Champion, British number 1 and ranked in the top 100 players in the world and it showed, his movement and technique, coupled with a huge physical presence really gave no-one else a chance. Max took gold after three convincing Ippon wins

Result: Gold and 2019 Commonwealth Champion

Cordelia Gregory

Cordelia is the current British Champion at Cadet and is indeed still a cadet for the next 12 months, however, she was selected to fight in the Junior section and had an interesting contest in her first round against the Indian number 1. The fight lasted around 10 seconds as Cordelia used her speed and movement to throw and hold for Ippon, she then cruised through to the final where she faced one of her fellow English women. The fight was tactical to begin with but ended the same way with Cordelia throwing for Ippon.

Result: Gold and 2019 Commonwealth Champion

Cerys Callard

Cerys was originally selected at U44 but was then re-selected for U48's she was up against a very strong quartet of girls at least 2 of which were full time athletes in their home countries. She was the aggressor in all of her contests, with an attitude and determination that some of our younger athletes would benefit from tremendously if they studied it. On the day Cerys came away with a 4th place and a Bronze medal.

Result: Bronze

And that was the end of day one; all three players medalling and 2 commonwealth champions. Gary Gregory was in the chair for all the contests. Weigh in then took place for the Masters (30+) we had 4 competitors in this section and these contests would be taking place the following day.


Day 2 saw Mark, Kylie, Ros and Myself compete in the veterans or masters as its lately called. This section had the biggest entry of the week with some 91 categories being fought for.

Ros Hopkins

Ros, if you didn't know, is a former Cadet and Junior GBR international and former British Champion. Despite myself and Charles figuratively beating her with a stick, she has kept her competitive appearances to a minimum. She has beautiful classic Judo, with fantastic movement and kumi kata. Her first fight was a slog with both her and her opponent attempting their techniques and groundwork attacks, with 10 seconds to go Ros threw her opponent for Ippon with a classic Sumi Gaeshi. Her next fight against a South African girl ended with Ros winning with a strangle (a while since she has won like that).

Result: Gold and 2019 Commonwealth Champion

Mark Adams

Mark is a competitive 4th Dan, he is a former British Champion, former British Number 1, a European and World Masters Medallist and one of our performance coaches at DJC. Mark had trained well for this event and was looking forward to competing here. Heavyweights for some reason always seem to be the last players to compete and so there was lots of waiting around, however, when the time arrived he was on his game, convincingly winning his first contest. His second, though dominated, was a little frustrating, as the opponent was clearly trying to fight tactically. This did not work and Mark was victorious in this contest which put him into the final. The final was a very closely run affair, with virtually nothing between the two fighters and Mark just missing out on Gold by the narrowest of margins, but still adding a Commonwealth Silver medal to his bulging cv.

Result: Silver

Kylie Adams

Kylie has been in a rich vein of form over the last 12 months. She is a 2 time British Champion and a European Medallist. Kylie is also one of our performance coaches at DJC. One of her biggest challenges in this event would be a contest against her number 1 British rival (and one of her best friends!) Donna. Kylie has fantastic Judo and great technique which is always evident in all aspects of her involvement in the sport. Though her contest against Donna wasn't the final, we were all pretty sure it would end up being the de-facto final and so it was. Kylie managed to pull off a standing seoi nage which is one of the most beautiful throws you can see when in competition but is very very rare.

she hen finished off with a win in the final

Result: Gold and 2019 Commonwealth Champion.

Ross Taylor:

Well i thought i would enter this Championship as it gave me a chance to represent my country and i wanted to be part of the competitive team. I have not competed since 2012 and not really been in competitive shape since 2011. Never the less i gave it a go and without a doubt, the best part was the support i got from the DJC team. The problem is that there really is no comparison to competing and the feeling you get is indescribable. I enjoyed myself and had a good de-brief with Gary on the mistakes i made and I'm pleased I stepped onto the mat again.

Result: 5th Place

And that was day two, Matside coaches were Mark, Kylie, Myself, Gary and a special mention to Team Bath's Charlie Bond. I first met Charlie when she was 12 and i was 29! Fast forward 10 years and she was sitting as Mat-side coach for me!

Before Day 3 was to commence a small party took place at the hotel for Donna's birthday in the evening, which meant the mad guys from Shepton Mallet were on form (most of our masters train at Shepton). Also joining us for some songs and a few laughs were various other coaches and masters from other clubs(Simon Ward after a few drinks is a riot!) Shepton Mallet were also celebrating as they had a medal rush of their own!


Day 3 was going to be 'the big one' - we had 4 pre-cadet boys and 7 pre-cadet girls including the Redruth girls. Usually one of the biggest stresses for a coach is the accreditation and weigh in but because this was a level 5 IJF event this had all been taken care of the night before.

Jake Brown

Jake, our lightest player, was first up and i have to say that all 6ft 4 and 18 stone of me got a little emotional watching him walk out representing England. Jake first ran (literally) into the Lifecentre almost 5 years ago and now to see him at this stage was fantastic. He had a tough draw against some overseas highly ranked players but was the aggressor in all of his contests and came away with a huge black eye for his troubles. I sometimes think Jake is 'Mr Drake' as he always epitomises, is everything i want our club to be.

Result: 7th Place

Bogdan Losonczi

Bogdan looked awesome when he arrived, he is lean and his physical fitness is incredible. He weighed at 51kgs and to think that at the beginning of this year he was 60kgs. Bogdan has dedicated himself to Judo this year and has been working closely with Gary and we are now just starting to see some of the evidence of this. His fundamental Judo skills have improved hugely and his first fight against a boy from Scotland lasted all of 2 seconds. A close defeat to an Indian player then put him into the reprecharge and then another Scottish boy was on the receiving end of a Bogdan left handed throw. Following this win Bogdan just missed out on a Bronze but his development continues.

Result: 5th Place

Maddox Callard

Maddox has also dedicated himself to training this year, he has also shot up in height and is now a tall, lean and muscular fighter, quite the comparison of the cheeky chubby chappy who used to run around the mat. He is however, stuck between two weights currently. Fighting in the U60's he was probably the lightest player in the category. This did not deter him however and he went out with his usual steely determination. His first fight caused lots of ooo's and ahhh's from the crowd as Maddox and his opponent both went for huge pickup throws. Maddox continues to develop as a player and epitomises our ethos at Drake of continual development. His Judo which is, as ever, a pleasure to watch.

Result: 7th Place

Reuben Frise

Reuben was making his debut at his new weight group of U73kgs and this competition was a hell of a time to do it! His semi final fight was against an Indian fighter who looked like a brick wall! This Indian fighter went on to take gold and didn't have a single contest, including the final which went more than about 20 seconds. In the Bronze medal semi-final Reuben put in a spirited performance against another Englishman but just missed out, coming home with a 5th place in the Commonwealth Championships - not bad eh!

Result: 5th place

Charlotte Hay

Charlotte's preparation for this competition has been a tale of two. She sustained an injury before the summer which has been niggly since, she took part in the John Davies summer camp and Reds but has been forced to be intelligent about her training so as not to aggravate anything. She recently took gold at the Welsh Schools and so was in good form going into this event. Lotties first fight saw a

nervous start but finished with some excellent Judo. Moving through the competition, she missed out in the semi final to a very good player but bounced straight back with a solid performance to put her into the Bronze medal final against a player from Northern Ireland. It wasn't quite to be and Lottie was very disappointed but a solid 5th place bodes well for the upcoming British Championships.

Result: 5th Place

Maria Oram-Perez

Maria's last few competitions have been dogged by nerves which, in turn, tend to frustrate her further. However this (arguably the biggest competition she has fought in) saw a new mindset, one which saw her more relaxed, a scrappy first round fight was followed by two classic Maria victories with huge throws being the order of the day. This put her in a position to fight for a place against Lottie in the Bronze medal fight. But it wasn't to be, however, a wonderful performance from Maria gave her 7th place, representing her country for the first time!

Result: 7th place


It's only been a year since JJ wandered into my demo class at Plymstock School having never done a Judo session in her life. Her tigger type personality has made her one of the most popular members of our club and her emotional aggressive style of Judo makes her a must to watch. Her contests were entertaining and eye-catching. This has been another invaluable learning experience for JJ who had already medalled at the Kent Internationals this year. Continuing to work with Gary and the rest of the coaching team she will no doubt get better and better!

Result: 9th place


Despite Liv's anger with me for spelling her name wrong on the accreditation (its Willson just to confirm!) she looked really excited and looked the part with her England Squad hoody on, she was more chatty than usual which was a good sign and found herself in a group which included the Redruth Girls and Caitlyn from Kingsley School. Liv at the moment relies on Counter throws for her contests and knows she needs to develop her attacking Judo, however, she went and fought her heart out, losing in the quarterfinals, she came back to win her next contest. She then just missed out on fighting for Bronze but took a solid 7th place - more work with our performance coaches will see Liv continue to develop. I will be a keen eye when she fights at the schools next year.

Result: 7th Place


Ahhh Alanna, the girl who sits and writes short stories on her phone in between contests! Alanna has been one of our mainstays at Drake Judo club and one of our most decorated players. Having medalled at most of the major competitions over the last 4 years, Alanna was also making her debut in the girls O70 kilos and looked teeny tiny compared to some of them, still, as with Alanna, she sort of floats to the tatami and then just gets on with business. Her semi final was a tough contest against the overall winner and she then had to prepare herself for the Bronze medal fight. She really had given everything to try and make the final (her lips were almost blue and she was very pale). Sadly the girl she was due to fight had sustained an injury, meaning she couldn't compete in the next contest, therefore, Alanna takes a commonwealth Bronze to add to her collection.

Result: Bronze

Redruth Girls

Over the last 3 months we have been honoured to host Becca and Tecca from Redruth Judo club in preparation for this event, both girls are very outgoing so have blended in with our equally outgoing players and there is a real team atmosphere whenever they are with us, the girls both gave it there all with Becca beating a girl from Patchway whom she had lost to at the Western Area only a few weeks before, Tecca looked to be in great form picking up wins over Caitlyn from Kingsley School and edging out Liv, she just missed out on a Bronze medal but should be incredibly proud of her performance. Both were coached by Redruth Head Coach Rowann

Result: Becca 7th Place

Tecca 5th Place

And so day 3 came to a close, Matside coaches were Gary, Ross, Charlie Bond and Rowann

Redruth were also supported by Sam.


Day 4 saw Gary and I crawl on our hands and knees back to the venue, i opted for my 3rd fry-up breakfast in a row and Gary decided on porridge for those of you interested in coach nutrition!

Adam Vosper:

Adam had the unfortunate situation of being rather ill at the start of the week and it really did look like he would not be competing, on top of that the day before he was due to travel he also had his driving test!(he passed)

Anyway as he took to the mat and we were a little concerned that this may affect his performance. One of the things younger players should look at Adam for is his professionalism, he is a pure pro, from his preparation, to his competing, to his attitude, he is all class and his Judo ethos is that he concentrates on perfecting the fundamentals, he doesn't worry about strange 'fashionable' throws that are doing the rounds he concentrates on the basics extremely well, including a tai-otoshi which is about an inch of the ground(nightmare!) and having ground work which is second to none, sadly the referees did not seem interested in letting his groundwork develop. He won his first two contests to roars from our section of the crowd and then had nail biting contest against an Indian player in which he just missed out on, he then bounced back with another win before finally his tank ran empty (im sure this was because of his illness on his chest) and he finished in 7th

P.S - Adam is like a flipping Cat! throw him and he always seems to land on his front

Result: 5th Place

Cordelia Gregory:

Cordelia had obviously won the Juniors but lots of people forget that she is in fact a 2nd year Cadet, meaning she has another year at Cadet before she even officially starts the juniors, frustratingly she is in a very awkward position where she has to fight in the Overs section as the cadets do not have an U78 kilo category like the juniors do, this means in some cases(and im not exaggerating) she can give away as much as her entire body weight in weight.

Most of the girls in this category are well over 80 kilos with some being over 100kgs. Her first fight was against the eventual winner from India, who made no attempt to attack but simply waited for Cordelia to attack and then sort of bundled her over, disappointing but in typical Cordy style she bounced back and won her next 3 contests in her usual high attacking aggressive fashion with fantastic footwork

Result: Bronze(to add to Gold from Thursday)

So that was the end of 4 historic and momentous days in DJC's short history, i will happily admit that there many times over those days i became rather emotional seeing everything unfold. At this point i do want to say a few things about our performance coach Gary Gregory.He worked his tail off at Matside not only for Max and Cordelia but many of his new students who had not experienced having him Matside before, the running around, the constant getting players prepped and then giving them the all important feedback was fantastic and lets face it he spent 4 solid days with me so he should probably get some sort of medal for that!

Drake Judo Club follow a simple coaching, training and competing philosophy - perfect the fundamentals, be the best YOU and don't try to be the best somebody else

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