Camberley Judo Club elite athletes, Ashley McKenzie and Nathon Burns were both competing on the first day of the European Championships.
The European Championships is taking place in Park Suits Arena at the heart of Montpellier, France. On the first day there were three weight categories including the U60 and U66 weight classes.
In the U60 category, 2012 Olympian, Ashley McKenzie started off strongly, defeating Papachristidi (GRE) in the first round. Following that, McKenzie was up against last year’s silver medallist, Chammartin (SUI) where he maintained his incredible performance and soon saw himself progress to the top eight of his weight class.
For the place to the semi-finals, Ashley was facing Safarov (AZE), where he threw his opponent for yuko putting him up in the contest. He then accumulated some penalties and less than 30 seconds before the end of the contest, Ashley received his fourth penalty which equalled a hansoku-make (disqualification of that contest) and McKenzie had to settle for the repechage.
In the repechage, Ashley defeated two times Olympian, Ludwig Paischer (AUT) and had earnt himself the chance to repeat last year’s results to go for the bronze medal. The final match did not finish with victory, McKenzie narrowly, only by one penalty point, missed out on adding another European bronze to his medal collection, and had to settle for fifth place.
McKenzie reflected on his day: “I feel good; I feel that I have started to go back on track again and my judo is flowing. I have to say I had really great support as my coach, Luke Preston, came out here too, and I was really happy about that.”
“Obviously I was very disappointed that I didn’t get a medal… it was harder this year, we had the Olympic and European Champion in the weight and of course all the medallists. I defeated last year’s silver medallist so overall I am pleased” – added McKenzie
“At the end, I am a winner not a loser and my performance was good…. And before going I would like to say a massive thank you to Camberley Judo Club for all the support. – says Ashley.
McKenzie will have a short break before heading to his next tournament, which will be the Grand Slam in Baku, Azerbaijan in less than two weeks time.
The day hadn’t quite ended there for CJC, as Nathon Burns was still up to show his talent in the U66 category. Nathon had to bow out in the first round after a tactical fight by the Portugese opponent made Nathon receive three penalty points. It was Nathon’s first European Championships. Burns recapped his European debut experience:
“Before anything I would like to say a massive thank you to Luke Preston, Danny Pecorelli and my father too. It was a great experience and I am really happy the way I fought, but of course I’m disappointed I couldn’t get hold of my first opponent. Overall I am happy to be here, especially, with this small team. I’m looking forward to getting back to CJC and preparing for my next tournament.”
Is there anything you think you could have done better? NB: “You know I have to say that there is not many competitions I have gone to and felt like I haven’t done everything I can to win and today was the same. I felt good, I felt strong and if anything I felt it was just out of my hands. Sometimes its goes the right way sometimes not, this is judo.”
Nathon is still awaits a few more contests as he is competing on Sunday at the European Team Event too, where his team mate from CJC, Owen Livesey will join later on.
CJC head coach Luke Preston reviewed the day from his point of view:
“Nathon lost on a tough match that in my opinion should have been interpreted differently. Ashley produced some fantastic judo against world class fighters to put him in a position to fight for another European medal. Again this fight was very close but it was not to be on this occasion.”
This is it from Montpellier for now. Stay tuned and follow the actions on live: www.eju.net
Report by Szandra