Ahead of the IBSA Grand Prix this weekend, we caught up with British Judo Paralympic Head Coach, Ian Johns to get his thoughts ahead of what promises to be great weekend of judo in Warwick.
Being staged on 19-20th June at the University of Warwick Sports and Wellness Hub, this will be the final opportunity for Paralympic fighters to compete and gain valuable qualification points ahead of the Tokyo Paralympic Games this summer.
“It is amazing to be back competing on home soil for the first time since the European Championships in 2017, there is always a huge sense of pride when competing in your home country. It is just a huge shame that we will be competing behind closed doors and we can’t have our friends, family and the judo public in Warwick to watch the team compete, but we know they will all be cheering the team on from home.
“There are many positives to competing at home: limited travel, no time zone changes and food that will not come as a surprise!
“The lads are looking amazing at the moment. At the recent event in Baku we were unsure what to expect, due to not competing for 16 months. We spoke before the competition about getting out there and being competitive, and we came away with some excellent performances on which we can build upon this weekend and heading into Tokyo.
“Since we returned home from Baku that momentum has just carried on into the preparation for this event in Warwick. It has been quite a quick turnaround, following isolation upon our return, so we have just done a maintenance block this past two weeks.
“Whist it’s been a quick turnaround, they are looking sharp! The rust has been knocked off from that first event and I am looking forward to seeing what they can do this weekend going into the final Paralympic qualification event.
“The work the lads have done at the Centre, since returning from lockdown, has allowed them to focus on areas that we maybe would not have had the chance, had the Games gone ahead as planned in 2020. We could see in Baku some of those technical aspects that the fighters have been working on during this period and as a coach it makes me immensely proud to see that pay off in an event, where it really counts.
“I have noticed that the lads have returned even hungrier to success following the enforced Covid break, to qualify for the Games, to win medals and to be the best versions of themselves every time they step onto the mat.
“Looking back at the past few months, we have had a really good training block, the fighters at the British Judo Centre of Excellence have been amazing in helping prepare our Paralympic team for competition.
“And looking ahead to the weekend; I just want the guys to be competitive. They do not need to be peaking now, although I do expect to see positive performances as we have some great fighters in the team. We have fighters that will be in the mix for medals at every competition.
“I know that if they go out and perform to the best of their ability, then we will have a special day.”
The draw will be made on Friday 18th June at 20:30 (BST)
Preliminary Rounds are scheduled to start at 10:00am (BST) with Final Block due to start at 16:30 (BST)* on both days.
*Please note timings are due to change based upon final entries and will be confirmed at the draw.