Venray International- 8th & 9th June 2013
Camberley Judo Club Juniors and parents were all in good spirits as they boarded the mini buses early Friday morning to head out to Holland for the Venray International Judo Tournament. For many this was their first experience of travelling abroad to compete and the excitement was tangible. Steve drew the short straw and was appointed as driver of the “mad bus” (full of kids) and Stu took the helm of the other bus which had been commandeered by the parents anxious to get a bit of peace on the journey. Big thanks to both for their help. Aside from a slight sat-nav malfunction (nothing to do with Steve of course) there were no dramas on the journey and everyone arrived at the accommodation in one piece, happy and eager to weigh in before tucking into dinner.
An early start on Saturday and a long weekend ahead with a total of 13 Players for Vince & Natalie to muster into position, reassure, encourage, console and congratulate. Everyone is to be praised for the efforts which produced mixed results. Some performed above expectations, others were perhaps a little overwhelmed by the occasion and were unable to show their true ability, and most importantly everyone enjoyed themselves.
The youngest and lightest competitor, Dylan Kirk, kicked off the fighting for the Camberley team, and he was understandably nervous as this was only his 3rd ever competition. He won 1 contest and lost 2 but showed good character, fantastic Judo and definite potential for a medal next year
Louie Baylis fought in a new weight category so found himself bottom of the weight. A few small mistakes meant a couple of loses but still a good effort. With some more hard work over the next year Louie could also be a medal contender.
Phoenix Govey Gray and Ellie Kirby lacked slightly in competition experience but gained a lot from having the courage to take part in this big international event having only competed in England before this occasion.
Last of the younger fighters was Tom Kirk aka TK, who produced by far the best performance of the weekend. Whilst Coach Natalie was targeting some of the kids winning one or two fights, TK had other ideas. He fought his way out of a group of 47 boys to win the bronze medal having a total of 7 contests throughout the day! If it wasn’t for an unlucky refereeing decision against a Dutch boy (hhhhmmm!) in the quarters he may have been in the final. Tom looked dominant and controlled in his fights displaying a range of techniques including Ouchi Gari, Harai Goshi and Uchi Mata. If match experience was the aim then parents Wendy and Phil certainly got their money’s worth!
Junior Coach Natalie commented “Some of the team who lost fights may be disheartened, but they really shouldn’t be. At this stage the fact that they are brave enough to walk into an arena with 8 mats and hundreds of spectators is an achievement in itself. They can all be very proud that they overcame nerves and fought their best. I was certainly very proud of all of the Camberley fighters and enjoyed the united team atmosphere we had.”
Under Coach Vince Skillcorn’s wing were the advanced junior fighters. First up were Ben Baxter and Dennis Gorman who fought in the U42kg category – Ben had a tough day losing to the eventual winner and unfortunately didn’t manage to show his true ability. Dennis who is relatively new to competing, didn’t let his lack of experience get in the way. Although he lost his 2 fights he threw both opponents for wazari before losing. This highlights the work to be done on contest fighting but was a very encouraging performance.
Oliver Baldwin (U46kg) lost both his fights but showed one of his best performances to date. Toby Roberts fought U50kg lost to a good Russian fighter in his first match and then threw his second opponent for wazari only for the score to be awarded the wrong way! With only one minute to go Toby put on some excellent pressure but was unable to get the score back.
Oliver Bergqvist (U55kg) gave a gutsy performance winning 3 fights and losing 2. He was slightly lacking in match fitness, having not competed in over a year, but displayed some very good Judo. Ewan Tweedie (U60kg), turned in another good performance, he lost his 1st match, came back with a win in his second but then lost his 3rd. Ewan continually shows improvement with every competition.
On the Sunday it was the turn of the older juniors beginning with Francesca Paine (U57kg) who is new to Camberley Judo Club. Francesca had two tough fights but unfortunately made some small mistakes and lost both. Coach Vince Skillcorn is confident that some work on gripping strategies will remedy these mistakes and result in more successful performances. Last to step up to the plate was James Preston Howes. Making the move up to the U66kg category for the first time at such a high level competition proved difficult and James was out-muscled this time losing both fights despite a good effort.
Advanced Junior Coach Vince Skillcorn said “I am very encouraged by all of the performances. When we entered the tournament I suspected the kids were a few years away from the standard needed to win medals and our main objective was to gain experience and build team spirit. On reflection I now believe many of them are capable of winning medals next year.”