This week sees three athletes move to the British Judo Centre of Excellence (CoE) to be full time members on the British Judo EDS Squad taking the total number of full-time athletes to 40.
Josh Giles follows in the footsteps of older sister Chelsie who has been a full-time member of the British Judo squad and trained at the CoE for 5 years. Last year Chelsie claimed European Games bronze in addition to bronze medals at the Zagreb Grand Prix and Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and a 7th place finish at the World Championships in Tokyo.
2019 was also a great year for Josh, following Paks European Junior Cup bronze he was selected to represent British Judo at the European and World Junior Championships.
Keeping with the sibling theme, Andrew McWatt moves to the CoE from Inverurie, Aberdeen, to join big brother Stuart who himself had a breakthrough 2019 which saw him gain selection to the World Championships in Tokyo and finish 7th at the European Games in Minsk.
Andrew will join an exciting crop of young, exciting, heavyweight talent at the CoE with Max Gregory, Oliver Barratt, Harry Lovell-Hewitt and Wesley Greenidge in addition to Christopher Skelley and Jack Hodgson on the Paralympic Programme.
Charlie Young also makes the move to the CoE full time, the 2017 European Youth Olympic Festival 5th place athlete also represented British Judo at the 2018 European Cadet Championships.
Speaking about the British Judo Programme, British Judo Performance Director Nigel Donohue said:
“It is an exciting time for British Judo as we recently celebrated our 6th year at the Centre of Excellence and have now grown our full-time squad to 40 athletes across our Olympic and Paralympic programmes training out of the National Centre. British Judo is extremely proud of our now established Performance System and that we are one of very few centralised National programmes for both Olympic and Paralympic athletes which has had a positive impact upon our performances internationally.
As the World Class Programme (WCP) has become established and embedded in the British Judo Performance System, we are now more selective of athletes being offered a place on our full-time programme. Our focus is very much on this year’s Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, but the recruitment of athletes for our 2024 and 2028 programmes is instrumental for continued success at World level. We are in a very strong position in our recruitment process and although talent and potential may be indicators for future success, we will only recruit athletes who also have the attitude and work ethic to maximise their potential. We are very pleased to welcome Josh, Charlie and Andrew to the WCP, who will now have to step up to prove their place on the programme.
Although the primary focus of the WCP is on developing and preparing athletes to perform and win on the World Stage, we are also very supportive of the athlete’s long-term development and life after Judo. Of our 40 full-time British Judo squad athletes, 23 athletes are currently enrolled in part or full-time education, with two members of our British Judo Elite Development Squad studying dentistry and neuroscience. Additionally, a number of other athlete’s regular attend CPD workshops and many have completed their UKCC Level 2 as part of being on the programme. The British Judo programme is dedicated to dual career development and supporting athletes both on and off the mat.
Josh, Charlie and Andrew will go through an induction process as they relocate to the British Judo CoE that will include physical profiling and screening, career and education planning, budgeting, food shopping and cooking workshops to ensure that they develop the necessary skills to live away from home.
They will join an established and strong training environment and am sure, will greatly add value to the quality of athletes at the Centre of Excellence.
Our Women’s programme is one of the strongest in European Judo and as we go into the final run-in to Olympic qualification, we have several female athletes vying for selection across all weight categories from 52kg to +78kg. We have fantastic potential in our Men’s programme with the expectation that a number of them will qualify for Tokyo and like the Women’s programme, we are starting to build strength in depth across the team which bodes well for the future.
We are looking forward to what promises to be a fantastic year for our sport and we want to give the British Judo fans performances they can be proud of come Tokyo. The British Judo Performance System is producing world class athletes and will continue to do so over the coming Olympic and Paralympic cycles heading into 2024 and 2028. We have great confidence that Great Britain can win that first elusive Olympic gold medal and believe it is just a case of when, not if.”