Judo aces in Belfast ahead of Olympics

Belfast ’s Lisa Kearney is on the brink of qualification for the Olympic judo competition and the local public will get the chance to see the sport close up at the weekend.

Queen’s University PEC will host the prestigious Northern Ireland Judo Federation Open Championships on Saturday and Sunday.

The home country event attracts the top competitors, fighting for Great Britain qualification ranking points. 

Over 500 judoka will take part, with Northern Ireland competitors having the opportunity to be selected for the GB squad in the future.

Judo is very much a sport on the up in Northern Ireland and the London 2012 Olympics are sure to provide a further boost to participation rates.

Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast Alderman Ruth Patterson said: “This is a fantastic competition, providing local judo players with the chance to compete against elite competitors from Britain and Ireland.

“Competitive sport — whether you win or lose — teaches young people great lessons for life. It encourages dedication and striving to be the best that you can be.”

Northern Ireland Judo Federation Chairman Ricky Sloane said: “The Northern Ireland players have worked extremely hard to reach this standard.

“Our players have shown they have what it takes to compete at national level but we want them to keep developing and hopefully in the not so distant future we will see some of them competing at European, World and Olympic competitions. I am incredibly proud of all the players that will compete in the Northern Ireland Open in our 60th anniversary.”