Hosts Camberley Judo Club raised vital funds for their 2012 Olympic hopefuls as they overcome a spirited young Welsh side on Thursday 25 November at the five-star South Lodge Hotel in Horsham.
The black-tie evening, which the club launched with a win over Australia in 2009, was introduced to raise funds for the Surrey Going for Gold Charity which supports the star-laden Camberley Judo Club squad.
Sky Sports’ veteran presenter Richard Keys spoke to British Olympic Association Director of Elite Performance Sir Clive Woodward and double Olympic medallist Kate Howey ahead of the highly-anticipated action on the mat.
In the truly unique and intimate setting the club v country bouts were staged in between the five-course gourmet dinner as guests were situated at tables around the edge of the matted area, in what was a first for many of the athletes and those in attendance.
Camberley were able to call on former world and European Champion Craig Fallon who now trains full-time at the club having returned to competitive action in October. The 27-year-old had had taken a sabbatical from the sport since the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Also lining up for the hosts was British Open silver medallist Nathon Burns, who’s moved from 60kg up to 66kg, 2010 European and World Championships debutant Danny Williams and Becky Dunning.
The pick of the contests was the battle between Kyle Davies and Craig Fallon, the latter narrowly edging his plucky young foe.
After Camberley retained and received the trophy, a series of auctions took place for those attending to bid to financially support the club’s top judoka.
Fighters were auctioned off including two-time Olympian Fallon who received the highest bid of £800 which will be utilised for training and living costs as he plots his third bid at the Olympics in 2012.
Camberley Judo Club Head Coach Luke Preston, himself originally from Wrexham Judo Club in North Wales, was instrumental in staging the event.
Preston, who’s also a support coach for the Great Britain judo squad, joined the Surrey club as a player in 1997 and retired in 2005. He now runs the day-to-day training programmes for the elite players.
“I was really delighted with event and everything went well,” said the three-time senior British Champion.
“It looked like everyone enjoyed the judo and every athlete worked hard on the mat. I viewed it as a great training session for them and the change in setting is good experience for them.
“Wales’ young team did them proud; they fought with a lot of heart and certainly have some potential.
“The funds we raised for every player was so significant for them, they can help provide a platform for them to maintain their push the London Olympics, Glasgow Commonwealth Games and beyond.”