Record attendance at Open National Squad Training weekend

Hundreds of members of the judo community gathered at the British Judo Centre of Excellence in Walsall for the first Open National Squad Training (ONST) session of 2014, between Friday 24 and Sunday 26 January.

Alongside the training weekend was an update on the performance programme spearheaded by Nigel Donohue and his team plus a workshop run by Olympic silver medallist Neil Adams and Head of the Centre of Excellence Jean-Paul Bell on the new IJF competition rules, with a technical session by refereeing representatives.

The three events combined achieved a “record attendance,” according to the Chairman of the British Judo Association Kerrith Brown. He described the two days as a milestone for the association, getting over 200 members of the judo community – over 20 coaches, 100 players, 80 referees, officials and senior managers – through the doors of the Centre of Excellence, for the very first time since it opened last November.

Kerrith Brown said: “It was fantastic to see the judo community come together across all spectrums of the sport. “We had players, coaches, referees and officials, as well as distinguished guests and I believe it was the first time I have seen so many judo people in one place, with a better attendance than our AGM!

“It was a fantastic day and a milestone for British Judo. It shows that we are all going in the right direction as an Association.”

All of the GB junior and senior judo players attended the ONST session – one of three compulsory events of the year.

Importantly it provided an opportunity for the new 2014 squad to train together with a high volume of randori sessions. 1992 Olympic Silver medallist Ray Stevens was one of the guests in attendance with other Olympic medallists including Kate Howey, Lead Women’s Coach and the only British woman to have won two Olympic judo medals (silver at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, and bronze at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona) and Dennis Stewart, GB Centre of Excellence coach, who won bronze at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.

Nigel Donohue, said: “This is the first ONST that we have held at the Centre of Excellence in Walsall and I was very pleased to see over 130 athletes and coaches in attendance. This is fantastic to see and shows that our programme is going in the right direction.”

Words by Donna Richardson.