Judoka from across the nation are gearing up for this year’s British Judo National Teams Championship tournament being held at Walsall Sports Centre at the University of Wolverhampton’s Walsall Campus on Saturday (6 July).
This year Scotland will be looking to regain their crown in the senior men and womens and junior boys competitions, while Northern Home Counties will be looking to make it two in a row in the junior girls category.
During the day each of the teams battle it out within their pools to try and reach the knockout rounds, with those successful contesting the semi final and finals. The medalists within each category from the 2012 National Team Championships will be seeded this year.
This year’s entries include Scotland, Eastern, London, Midland, Northern, Northern Home Counties, Northwest, Southern, Western and Yorkshire and Humberside and Combined Services. This year Northern Ireland and Wales and Police Sport UK will not be participating.
Last year Scotland won three of the four gold medals available at the championships which were held at EIS Sheffield.
In the senior men’s final Nathon Burns put the North West 1-0 up with a win against James Millar. Scotland fought back as Patrick Dawson levelled the score with a uchi-mata and edged ahead as Iain Feenan produced an ippon for a 2-1 lead for the defending champions. Matthew Purssey, sealed gold for Scotland with a huge ippon while Karl Etherington produced a consolation victory as Scotland ran out 3-2 winners. Bronze medals went to the West and London.
In the senior women category Scotland defeated Northern Home Counties (NHC) 3-2 as the high-quality team of Louise and Kim Renicks, Connie Ramsey, Charlotte Potter and Kirsty Rogers reigned supreme. Bronze medals were clinched by the Midlands and London.
In the junior girls competition NHC beat London as they won six contests to the capital’s three. Bronze medals went to Scotland and the Midlands.
Scotland’s third gold came courtesy of their junior boys’ hard-fought triumph over the Midlands as they ran out 6-5 winners in a nail-biting final. Bronze medals went to London and the North West.
David Somerville, Scotland’s National High Performance Coach, said: ““Last year Scotland got three gold medals, but at the end of the day success in medals is only one measure. We are predominantly a sport which focuses on individual successes but this event is unique in that it unites people as a team, and this in turn, strengthens morale for when we go abroad or compete at home as a combined GB squad.
Judo Scotland always look forward to competing in the event and moving towards Glasgow and the Commonwealths it is good to participate as a team on home ground.
“A lot of our senior athletes from last year’s event will be representing GB in various events over the weekend, but this gives our other players an opportunity to prove their worth. Our junior members will also be competing for a second year running as previously the school holidays clashed with the event which is a positive step in their development.”
Patrick Dawson, who helped Scotland to gold in the Men’s Senior competition last year, said: “I’m disappointed to be missing the national team championships this year as the atmosphere at the event is brilliant. Last year JudoScotland took men, women and junior men’s titles and a bronze in the junior women’s, and I would have loved to help defend the titles!”
Sisters Louise and Kim Renicks who helped Scotland achieve bronze for the girls, offered up some advice for this year’s athletes: “The event is really good for team bonding,” said Louise, who is unable to compete this year due to a shoulder injury. “When you are fighting in other competitions you can feel like you are all alone. But when you fight for a team your mates are all spurring you on and you are all rooting for each other. It is a great atmosphere amplified by the chance for a bit of banter with other teams.”
Younger sister Kim, will be attending Castelldefels training camp this weekend which means she will miss out on the chance to fight at the event this year. She said: “You have to have three wins out of five to progress and to achieve that as a team is great because if one person does not perform as well, for any reason, you can always boost the score by winning the next match. As judo players we are used to going out and getting an individual result but this event is about the teams. It is also a great chance to mix with the juniors too because when you become a senior you tend not to mix with the younger team members.”
Words by Donna Richardson
Photo courtesy of IJF