School Champions Crowned by an Olympian in Sheffield

More than 500 youngsters were in action at the British School Championships at iceSheffield on Saturday 8 March, and many were spurred on as Olympian Ashley McKenzie made a personal appearance and gave out some of the medals.

Action took place over seven mats and parents came out in force to support their children in an event that provides an opportunity for young judoka to showcase their talents on a national level and possibly catch the attention of those in charge of the performance pathway.

A number of international athletes have been involved with the British Schools system on their way to representing Great Britain including former squad members Winston Gordon, Dennis Stewart, Densign White and Nicola Fairbrother to name but a few.

Chairman of the British Schools Commission (BSJC), Malcolm Collins said: “I am very pleased with the event and the organisation and effort the BJA has put into it. Volunteers are the lifeblood of this event and we couldn’t have done this without their help. Thank you.”

Ashley McKenzie inspires 

Inspiration was also found in the shape of Olympian Ashley McKenzie who made a personal appearance at the British Schools event, offering advice for fans and handing out some of the medals. The next day he went on to win the English Open in the -66kg category.

“It was great to attend the British Schools Championships,” he said.

“It’s so good to talk to the kids who are competing and find out about their achievements and goals.

“All the competitors who medalled came running back to me straight after they won their fights to tell me how they did and some said that the highlight of their day wasn’t winning their medals but having me present them and that is so nice to hear.”

Taking his responsibilities as a role model for youngsters coming into the sport, he added.

“One boy who spoke to me said that I was the reason that he started judo in the first place, he watched me compete at the London Olympics and then asked his parents to take him to his local judo club so hearing first hand that I really have inspired someone in that way, well there’s just no greater feeling,

“I hope to keep improving my results and inspire the next generation through my successes.”

To view the medal winners from today’s event click here to see the full results.

Words by Donna Richardson. Images supplied by Ashley McKenzie’s agent and Mike Varey.