Camberley Judo Club- Head Coach Luke Preston
“Having successfully coached Bronze Medallist Karina Bryant and other members of the 2012 Olympic GB Squad, we interview Luke Preston about his Olympic experience and his role at Camberley Judo Club”
What preparations were you involved with to get the GB squad ready for London 2012 to Olympics?
From the 2011 Paris worlds onwards I was asked to work officially with the potential GB Olympic team in all their preparations for London 2012. Specifically I worked with the Camberley based players but I supported all the Olympic squad members on training camps and competitions.
Describe your thoughts/emotions during Karina’s last fight when she was fighting for the Bronze medal
I knew Karina could win the bronze medal match and I believed that throughout the contest. It was an up and down match that I’m sure neutral fans enjoyed! As the Ukrainian tired I knew Karina would only need one chance to finish the contest. After she threw for her final waza-ari I felt delighted for her and everyone at the club. I also felt a big sense of relief for her that she had finally fulfilled her potential on the biggest stage of all and that all the hard work had paid off.
What does your role as Head Coach at CJC entail?
I am responsible for the elite athletes that train full time and also for the running of the advanced senior randori sessions. In terms of the elite team I plan and co-ordinate all their competition and training plans. Their training is a mixture of judo randori, judo technical/tactical and strength and conditioning. I am lucky to have a great strength and conditioning consultant in Ben Rosenblatt who works with me in that area. In terms of the club generally I oversee all the judo training and support the other club coaches Vince and Natalie.
You had a successful Judo career yourself winning medals in World Cups, a bronze at the Commonwealth Games and placing 7th in a Senior European Championships. Do you prefer being a Coach or an athlete?
I enjoyed being an athlete but I love coaching.
What is the best a part of your job?
I really don’t look at it as a job but I always aim to be professional and organised. I would say the best part of what I do is sharing a journey with an athlete-setting goals and working together to reach them. That could be someone learning a new technique, reaching the British squad or winning an Olympic medal.
Do you think having been an athlete has helped with your coaching abilities?
Yes-coaching at a high level can be stressful especially with the pressure for Olympic medals. As an athlete you learn how to deal with stress and pressure regularly and this helped me. Obviously as a British international for several years my technical/tactical judo knowledge was of a good level but I think coming through full time training myself at Camberley has given me a more in depth insight to elite training and competing than most.
What are your aspirations for Camberley Judo Club and it’s players for the future?
In terms of the facilities I really want to help support our bid for a new dojo which would incorporate all that is needed to train for elite sport. I would never want to lose the junior and senior recreational side of the club though. What makes Camberley unique is that we have six year old white belts, 50 year old black belts and Olympic medalist all proud to call Camberley their club.
I hope all the sections of the club continue to grow and prosper as they have done thanks to the hard work of coaches like Vince and Natalie. The trust that support the club led by Danny Pecorelli have been invaluable in our recent success too.
In terms of the elite team I am really looking forward to some of them competing in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games next year and hopefully bringing back a gold medal to the club like Sam Lowe achieved in 2002. The build up to the Rio Olympics is also already upon us and I am excited to see who from Camberley can qualify and medal.