The Camberley Judo Club annual black tie gala dinner at Pennyhill Park Hotel on 4th April was once again a huge success. The event originated in 2009 to raise much needed funds for the Surrey Going For Gold charity, supporting Camberley Judo Club athletes aiming for the Olympic and Commonwealth Games. The premise of the evening is a champagne reception and a four course meal . The entertainment is provided by Camberley Judo Club taking on a National team in a thrilling judo team event. Originally pitted against an Australian team, the event was nicknamed ‘The Ashes’ which has stuck ever since, despite since having fought a Welsh team, a German team and this year a Spanish team.
The exclusive event was attended by 120 spectators, including BJA Chairman Kerrith Brown, BJA Chief Executive Andrew Scoular, sponsors and friends of the Club. The evening kicked off with a short interview with Olympic medallist Karina Bryant about her experience in London. Next up Nathon Burns and Ashley McKenzie put on a dynamic display to warm the crowd up for the real action that was to follow in the team matches.
The team competition proved to be the most exciting and tense of all the Ashes to date. First match of the evening was Nathon Burns against his Spanish opponent Issol Mayans in the -66kg category. Nathon made extremely short work of his opponent moving from a sacrifice technique to an arm lock with lightning speed and securing the win in less than 20 seconds! Next up and the only female contest of the night was between Anna Svensson and Alba Lopéz. It was a gritty contest with little to choose between the fighters, despite Anna’s determined efforts she got thrown with a 10 maximum score near to the end of the 5 minutes bringing the score line to 1 win each. Finishing off the first round of fights before the short interlude for dinner to be served, was Tom Davis. Another fantastic battle unfolded in this under 81kg match against Spain’s Paco Campos. Packed full of attacks and close escapes the clocked ticked away again, finally Tom’s relentless attitude was rewarded in the form of another 10 point win, this time to Camberley.
Once the guests had enjoyed the delicious food and refreshments they were ready for the next round of action. Out first was Lee Shinkin in the -73kg catgory against David Flecha, a strong explosive opponent. It was turning out to be a night of truly nail biting judo. For most of the contest there was nothing to choose between the two opponents, unfortunately Spain clawed back to an equal score line when Flecha caught Shinkin with a throw for maximum points. The tension was building in the room as it was becoming more and more evident that this would be the closest Ashes tournament Camberley had ever faced. Frazer Chamberlain was next to face his Spanish opponent, Isaac Carreño in the -90kg. Continuing the theme of the evening both fighters were very evenly matched and displayed some exciting explosive Judo. As if to deliberately keep the audience on the edge of their seats Isaac pulled out yet another maximum points win to bring Spain in to the lead 2-3 with just one contest to go. Revelling in the electric atmosphere and pressure Ashley Mckenzie stepped on to the mat to face Ignacio de Apellaniz -60kg. Everything came down to this last match, Spain had to win this contest to take the trophy from Camberley. Not one to shy away from a challenge, Ashley not only won but he won in style, with a dynamic throw for maximum points in under 20 seconds! The crowd, and Ashley, were on their feet cheering and celebrating as Camberley retained the Ashes for the fourth consecutive year! Definitely the closest and most exciting Ashes event so far.
The evening concluded with the auction of the players, an opportunity for those attending to bid to financially support the club’s top judoka, which will be utilised for living and training costs. The event raised an impressive £18,000 for the Surrey Going For Gold Charity. Camberley head coach Luke Preston said, “I am delighted that the fourth ever Judo Ashes was such a success.The fights were closer than ever and the Spanish team put on a great performance. Thanks to Pennyhill Park for hosting the event and everyone that came and supported us”.
Camberley Judo Club is still looking for support for players training towards Glasgow Commonwealth Games and Rio 2016 Olympic Games. If you are interested in becoming involved with the charity please contact us for more information firstname.lastname@example.org