Coaches Vince Skillcorn and Natalie Hall accompanied six promising Camberley juniors to Kidderminster for the British Championships for 10 to 12 year olds. It was the first time at the “Nationals” for all of the mini-warriors and an opportunity for both coaches and players to assess their progress whilst gaining valuable experience for the years ahead. The event was well organised by Samurai Judo Club with entry lists and timetables produced in advance, record numbers of entrants and a friendly welcome for all who attended.
Tom Kirk fighting in the U34kg Category narrowly missed out on making it to the knockout stages having lost his first fight by a single penalty and his third against an opponent who benefited from a reversed decision and was fortunate to avoid disqualification for passivity. A good win in his second bout seemed scant reward for a player who on another day could have made it through to the medal fights, but that’s Judo!
Louie Baylis and Luke Smith, both fighting at U38kg, performed creditably. Louie came back strongly in his pool having lost his opening two fights, with two ippon wins and Luke having lost two and won one had to retire injured from his fourth fight with a knee injury. A shame as he was dominating the bout and would likely have left with a 2:2 record as well.
Dennis Gorman (U42Kg), struggled a little against some very good opponents and, despite failing to record a win, showed enough to demonstrate that given more mat time he has the potential to become a very strong competitor.
Camberley player of the day was Ben Baxter (AKA Cheese). Fighting at U46kg for the first time he made light work of his pool with three Ippon wins (two throws and one hold down) to progress through to the knock out stages. A bye saw Ben into the last eight, having the maturity to listen to his coach and follow out instructions kept Ben in the fight for a good while but it wasn’t enough to see him through against the eventual gold medallist and he dropped into the repechage. Here he came up against another strong competitor, Ben dominated the grips and threw his opponent for ippon early in the contest to take him through to the bronze medal contest. A brief lapse of concentration in his final bout brought his medal hopes to an end but should not distract from what was a very encouraging performance in securing 5th place.
Oliver Penny (U55kg), found the going tough having not competed at this weight or level before and despite a gutsy performance lost his two fights. However, recent performances in club randori suggest that once he has gained a little more competition experience he will fare much better.
Overall an encouraging day with plenty of positives to be taken back to the club.
In the Masters, representing CJC at -60kg in the blue belt and under section was Sam Horrell. Disappointingly he was the only entrant in this category and was awarded the Gold by default. However he was combined with the -60kg higher grades and all ages including Dan grades. Sam won his 1st fight throwing his opponent, a 1st Dan, for 2 wazaris. He went on to lose his next 3 fights, all 1st and 2nd Dan Black belts, but he fought extremely well considering it was his first time at this level.
Gary Howe won bronze in the -73kg Brown and Black belts (30years-35 years) section. He had some tough fights and was the only kyu grade to get on the rostrum and only narrowly lost to the gold and silver medallists. Coach Vince Skillcorn was pleased to see Gary throw his first opponent for ippon, before securing a vital win in his 2nd fight with an arm lock in just 9 seconds. Gary lost in the semi final leaving him to collect the bronze medal.
Also in -73kg Brown and Black belts section was Tony Baxter (45years – 50 years), a tough draw saw him face a 5th Dan in his first match. Showing a marked improvement from the last time he faced this opponent, Tony made one mistake and lost only on that small score. A slightly disappointing performances in the next fight led to a loss and gave Tony 7th place.
Last was Bill Tweedie (-90kg Brown and Black belts 45years – 50 years). Lack of competition experience under the new rules was Bill’s undoing. First match was against the eventual gold medallist, a good fight but picking up 2 penalties for touching the leg meant he lost his opening contest. In his second match he performed a lovely uchimata throw for a maximum point win. In his last match he again fought well but didn’t manage to secure a win leaving him with 7th place too.
Coach to the CJC Masters fighters, Vince Skillcorn, commented “It was nice to see the older CJC fighters competing and they all gave it their all. It was also a good reflection of the hard work everyone has put into Camberley over the last few years to expand participation across all ages and levels. Gary Howe, Tony Baxter and Bill Tweedie all have children doing Judo at CJC and in fact Ben Baxter and Ewan Tweedie competed at this level event in their respective age groups! Great atmosphere and team spirit, well done all.”