Ashley McKenzie for the individuals, Owen Livesey for the team and Nathon Burns for both events are on the list of GB representatives at the 2014 Judo European Championships. The tournament will take place from the 24th – 27th of April in Montpellier, France.
The dedication of the athletes’ at Deer Rock Road is certainly paying off since Great Britain selected only three male players to attend in the individuals, two of which are from Camberley Judo Club (CJC).
McKenzie, will be competing in the U60kg category. The 2012 Olympian won his first continental medal last year returning home with the bronze medal. McKenzie, once again will be targeting the medal zone: AM: “I am happy to be in the position to be able to fight again as our selection criteria was pretty tough. It is an amazing chance to get points for the ranking list and a good start to have a good position on the world ranking when the 2016 Rio qualification starts… I am honoured to represent Camberley Judo Club and I hope I will have a good day in the office like I did last year.”
At the same time, in the U66kg category, Burns will be on the hunt for a medal too. It will be the first Senior European Championships for the 25 year old judoka but this won’t stop him aiming for the medal rostrum. How is he preparing for the big event? NB: “It is really exciting to be selected for my first European Champs, but now I’m definitely in the team, it is just time to go and fight my hardest out there… I will prepare for the Europeans exactly the same as I do for any other tournaments…there is no pressure, I’m just got to get stuck into it and show what I’m capable of.”
Livesey has been selected in the U81kg as part of the team event of the EC. This will be his debut in a team event at such a high level. After winning two silver medal in two World Cups in the past two weekends, Livesey must be confident and is a strong member of the team. OL: ” This is a good opportunity for me, it is a great experience to fight against some top level players and I am sure it will be very enjoyable. As always I will be training very hard at Camberley towards the event and just treat it as any competition. Fingers crossed it goes well.”
All three of the competitors are part of the Elite team at the CJC, and train three times a day. We all know that no athletes’ achievements just come out of the blue, along with hard work and dedication there is a personal coach who supports, advises and imparts knowledge. So who is the person developing the talent at CJC? Luke Preston, the Head coach of the CJC Elite Team has been in the industry long enough, and for some, the name might ring a bell. Why? He was a team GB Olympic coach for London 2012, preparing three athletes for the games, and mat side coached Karina Bryant to her brilliant bronze medal win.
Two years on, it is 2014 and we are only weeks away from the Continental championships. How does it feel to have three of your players selected for the Europeans? LP: “First of all I am very pleased that Nathon has been selected for his first senior European championships. He has worked very hard for many years to earn his chance. Ashley too has worked hard for a chance to win his second European medal. Both men were fighting really well at the Pan-American tour a few weeks ago. Both are capable of big medals… As for Owen, the opportunity to fight alongside Nathon at the team event is well deserved. He is in great form and is capable of beating anyone. The Team event is a special event. I won a European silver medal in this event with the GB team in 2000 and the spirit and the atmosphere that day was amazing. For Camberley and the elite team training group these selections are a great boost and everyone is behind the lads and the whole GB team.”
How is the preparation coming along? “Next week they will enter the final preparation camp at the British Judo Association centre of excellence in Walsall. This will involve heavy loading training including test fights. They will then return to Camberley to taper and sharpen for the event with a balance of rest and short sharp sessions.”
Both, McKenzie and Burns will be in spotlight on the 24th of April, while Livesey will be competing on the 27th of April. You can follow their progress via our social sites:
Want to watch the European Championship live? Stay tuned and watch it online at www.ippontv.org