A young GB Visually Impaired (VI) Judo squad will take to the mat at the 2017 Visually Impaired German Open in Heidelberg on Saturday 25 February.
The German Open is the first international VI Judo competition of 2017 with the European Championships later this year the main aim for the GB judoka.
Seven British players will be in action in total with returning Rio Paralympians Chris Skelley (-100kg) and Natalie Greenhough (-70kg) leading the way as the most experienced members of the team. At last year’s German Open, Skelley was in dominant form winning gold while Greenhough finished with silver.
For both athletes this will be their first international competition since last year’s Paralympic Games though Skelley, who came fifth in Rio, fought at the Scottish Open at the start of 2017 winning silver in the sighted event.
Evan Molloy (-73kg) impressed at last year’s German Open winning gold in the Junior comp while also finishing fifth in the senior tournament. The Bath judoka will be hoping to make the step up this year with Tokyo 2020 the long-term goal.
Connah Anders (-66kg) and Cameron Bradley (-73kg) will be looking to gain more experience at international level having made their debuts for the GB VI squad at last year’s German Open and GB Grand Prix respectively.
Meanwhile there are debut appearances for Victoria Howarth (+70kg) and Samuel Price (-60kg). Howarth is a former member of the GB Para-Equestrian squad before making the move to judo in 2016 while Price is a member of the Welsh Judo Cadet squad but he will be competing in his first VI judo competition.
Paralympic Head Coach Ian Johns is looking forward to seeing how his young team does this weekend:
“I can’t wait. It’s been a long-time since the Games and I know the guys are raring to go. A lot of the team are still new to international VI competitions so it’ll be a good chance for them to gain some experience at the start of the Tokyo cycle.
“For Chris and Natalie, they’ve been there and done it so I’ll be looking to them for their experience and leadership this weekend. Obviously the main focus this year is the European Championships but right now it’s all about Germany.”
Competition starts at 1000 GMT on Saturday with the Cadet competition followed by an 1100 GMT start for the Senior tournament.