Easter delights at Special Needs tournament in Holland

The European Open Special Needs Tournament and the Beverwijk Open G-Judo Tournament both took place over the Easter weekend at the Sporthal de Walvis (“The Whale Sportshall”) in Holland.

Both events were attended by a range of players from clubs all over the United Kingdom and at the Beverwijk event, there were five levels of ability.

The Dutch have a long history of dealing with Special Needs, so on Friday 18 April they attended a training session in the morning led by former Dutch Under 20s World Champion and silver medallist Marvin de la Croes, Sanneke Vermeulen, 2008 Paralympian and Claudia Zwiers who represented her native country at two Summer Olympics (1996 and 2004) and the bronze medal in the women’s middleweight division (–66 kg) in Atlanta, United States (1996). 

The sessions were co-ordinated by Tycho van der Werff who designed a special needs judo training syllabus and the event had least three GB players in attendance.

On the morning of Saturday 19 April the European Open Special Needs event took place with senior judoka at levels one and two followed by a kata competition in the afternoon.

Senior player Christopher Murphy, 19  won all five fights and the event served as ideal preparation for the Special Olympic World Games in Los Angeles in 2015, which he has been selected to compete in along with Nicole James.

Richard Cooke (Edinburgh Judo Club) also took gold at -90kg. He was lightest in his pool and he had three fights all against Dutch opponents two of whom he has met before and won all by ippon.

The first bout comprised of two waza-ari’s while the second fight against Jasper Holtackers saw him claim a hold down victory. The third fight against Etienne Wolters involved an ippon throw, giving him ten points towards his second Dan.

Tom Mawdsley continued team GB’s dominance in the senior males category at this event as the 16 year old, of Rayleigh Mill Judo Club seized silver.

Cameron Black (SJCA) was entered at -66kg but weighed in at 68kg, and this meant he was in a heavier pool. While he fought well, he found it hard to give away weight to his opponents. As a result he was unable to escape from two hold downs.

All his fights were close, especially his second where he lead by one waza-ari and a yuko, but he was unlucky to be thrown for ippon in the closing seconds, and settled for bronze in the end.

On Sunday 20 April, the Beverwijk Open G-Judo Tournament was held for seniors levels three, fourth and five and for juniors of all levels. This was the 16th year of this competition, an event widely attended by judoka from Britain since 2006.

Junior judoka Nicole James, 14, took gold for Jidel Judo 93 in Scotland. James was placed in a group of five, winning three matches by ippon and one by waza-ari to take the gold medal.

Philip Brodie, 13, also took gold for Jidel Judo 93 Scotland, he was placed in a group of five and won his way through to the final against Skye Westwood of Renrukan Judo Club, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

Greg Morrison (Aberdeen JC) in his last year as a junior showed his growing confidence and easily won two fights. He was leading in the third when he got caught for ippon but eventually took a well deserved silver.

Rebecca McCready, 17, and Rebecca Crossan, 20, both from Kyu Shin Kwai Scotland likewise rounded off Scotland’s medal haul with a bronze medal a-piece.

Four players from Stokenchurch Judo Club, Buckinghamshire, took part in the event, Patrick Hepworth (15), a level four player, seized silver in his first competition abroad.

He fought well, winning three out of five contests to take the silver medal in his group.

Shaun Banks, Stokenchurch Judo Club,  a 23 year old level three player, won one of his four contests in his group against bigger players to take the bronze medal and another 10 points towards his Dan grade and now he has only 23 points left to gain.

Sean McKellar, Stokenchurch Judo Club, a 46 year old level three player, came fourth in his group.
Craig Edwards, from Welsh Institute of Performance (WISP), Wales, 26 from Bridgend Level three player competws in ne-waza and he won all four contests to take gold in his group.
Several coaches, parents and carers accompanied the various athletes, and it is thanks to their dedication and hard work that this was made possible.
One of them was Senior GB Special Needs coach Jo Imrie. She said she was delighted with way that the whole squad had applied themselves at this event:

“There were some outstanding individual performances, but all the players appeared to be progressing in the right direction.

“This is due to the hard work and support of the players personal coaches back home at their individual judo clubs.”

Remember there’s only one day left to register your interest for the special needs event taking place in Ravenna but please note that this closes on 30 April. Contact Ken Thorne Ken.THORNE@oxinst.com for further details.


All results of future competitions should be sent in to communications@britishjudo.org.uk, ideally two days after the event to ensure a timely report.


Photos by Bob Lefevere can be found here and on his website.

Photos were also taken by Roland Homburg. Click here.

Iain Cooke also took some photos. More can be found on the Scottish Special Needs facebook page.

Please respect the rights of all the photographers, enjoy but do not use for commercial purposes.

Words By Donna Richardson, with contributions from Fiona Cooke, Jo Imrie, Jean Cleere and Andy Scott.