After a three-year gap due to Covid, the British National Team Championships returned with a bang at the University of Wolverhampton Sports Centre at Walsall Campus on Saturday 2nd July. As the first contests commenced on the five mats, a roar of encouragement went up from the audience which seemed to continue for most of the day.
The event was run by Samurai Judo Club, perhaps the only club in the BJA able to run a National event of this size – most National events are run by Areas or Home Countries. There were around 300 competitors from ten Home Countries and English Areas including Scotland, North, North-West, Midlands, Wales, West, Northern Home Counties, South, London and Armed Forces with around 80 officials.
London emerged as the most successful (and probably the loudest!) Area, taking three golds including the double of Senior men and Senior Women. There were also golds for North, South and NHC, with silver and bronze medals well spread including five medals for Scotland and three for the Midlands.
From the beginning of the Minor and Pre-Cadet Girls category, the North looked strong, winning their three pool matches 4-1, 4-1 and 5-0, whilst in the other pool, NHC had a tougher time, winning four matches 4-1, 3-2, 4-1 and 3-2. Both teams edged their semi-finals 3-2 to meet in the final. The individual matches in the final were all quite quick and when the dust settled North won 3-2 to take the gold.
In the Minor and Pre-Cadet Boys pool one, Scotland started with an impressive 7-0 whitewash and won their second pool match 5-2, whilst London recorded two 6-1 wins. When these two juggernauts collided in the last match, London edged it 4-3 to top the pool. In the other pool, NHC edged a close 4-3 match with South and both comfortably won their other matches to qualify from the pool. All the remaining matches were close, with London and NHC both winning their semi-finals 4-3 and then London winning the final 4-3 again with the last individual contest being the decider, to take the gold.
Cadet and Junior girls, Scotland edged pool one with a 4-1 win and two 3-2 wins, whilst Wales came second, having the same number of wins as West but two more individual wins. In the other pool, a very young Midlands team lost 4-1 to Scotland but won both of their remaining matches to reach the semi-finals, whilst two more 4-1 wins saw South through as top of the pool. South had another 4-1 win in their semi-final, but the Midlands edged out a 3-2 win against Scotland to set up a return match against South in the final. However, the final went the same way as the pool, with a 4-1 win to the South earning them the gold medal. That Midlands team, however, has two more years in this age band, so they will be back next year.
Scotland topped pool one of the Cadet and Junior Boys with three comfortable wins, with London in second place. Pool two saw NHC win all four of their matches to finish top, with South second. Scotland and NHC both won their semi-finals convincingly, but in the final NHC just seemed to go up a gear or three and recorded a 6-1 win to take the gold.
In the Senior Women, London and Midlands qualified from pool one, whilst NHC and South came through pool two, Scotland’s two narrow 3-2 defeats meaning that this was the only category in which they missed out on a medal. London edged out NHC in the one semi-final, whilst South had a slightly more comfortable win against Midlands, but after South took a 1-0 lead in the final, London won the next four individual contests to finish 4-1 winners.
Finally in the Senior Men, pool one was a very tight affair with London and Midlands edging wins and London beating Midlands 3-2 in the pool decider. Pool two was much more decisive, with Scotland winning all three of their matches 5-0 and West recording two 5-0 wins to take second place. London and Scotland both had convincing semi-final wins to set up a titanic final. Ashley McKenzie took the first contest for London, Scotland equalized but the two Adams, Adaman and Horshal, gave London further wins and they ended up 3-2 winners.
Samurai Judo Club would like to thank all of the referees and technical officials who supported the event, as well as their own first aid team and supporting officials and also all of the players, coaches, team managers and spectators who helped to make this a great return for a unique event.
Results from British National Team Championships can be found here.