Twins set success in Sheffield judo competitions

Two sets of twins enjoyed success on and off the mat at the weekend at the British Schools Championships and English Open in Sheffield that both took place at iceSheffield on Saturday 8 March.

Identical twins Will and Tom Johnson, 18, of Yoshin Ryu club fought in the finals of the -66kg and -73kg categories respectively at junior level in the English Open with both contests decided almost simultaneously by yuko scores.

Will took the under -73kg gold as his brother Tom settled for the -66kg silver against Eric Ham.

The Croydon brothers are fresh from success at the British University and Colleges Sport Championships (BUSC) on February 22 and 23 also at the same venue.

Tom, who studies Economics at the London School of Economics, still can’t quite believe that he managed to win his British title in December at another Sheffield sporting venue – the English Institute of Sport, so soon after coming back from a serious fractured back injury.

“I didn’t expect to be British Champion after being out for six months for fracturing my lower back,” he said.

“While I am still in rehabilitation, and the fracture will always be there, it is nice to not only be back, but to be top of my game.”

Will reads law at Oxford University and is a member of the Oxford Judo Club (AKA the Blues). He missed out on the December Championships after he also contracted a back injury following a tournament in Belgium.

Before BUCS, the last time the pair matched each other’s results was bronze at the January 2013 British Championships (Trials). The pair studied identical A-Levels and received straight A’s to enable them to go to their dream universities.

They also met their name-sake Boris Johnson when they were youngsters.

Another double act

A day earlier at the British Schools Championships twins Ben and Alice Skelton from Retford Judo Club achieved success both on and off the mat.

The Queen Elizabeth High School students weighed in as players in the morning, before clocking in for duty as volunteer timekeepers. After working the clock until a short while before they were called to the mat, they then stepped away from the table, changed into their gi’s and fought, with Alice gaining silver in her competition and Ben bouncing to bronze.

Last year Alice took gold, as Ben officiated but this year they were both in action.

Alice said:“It feels really good to be on both sides of the field.

“In my opinion it ultimately it makes you a better player as you learn to understand the decisions made. I was kind of disappointed that I lost out and I lost to the same girl I have faced before, but that’s judo for you.”

Ben added: “Being an official is great because it gives you something to focus on while you are warming up for a competition as a player.

“Being involved on both sides you learn to appreciate the bigger picture and learn to understand more about the game, which ultimately helps you to perform on the mat.”

“We need more officials in the sport to help run competitions to keep competitions going and it makes sense that as players we can give something back to the judo community that has given us so much.”

In the Olympic year Ben received the British Judo Official of the Year award.

One time, Alice was on the mat and broke her collarbone in a fight as Ben was officiating and he had to watch his twin being carried off on a stretcher.

“I had an operation and as soon as I was back on the mat as soon as I healed,” said Alice. “I love being a judo player, and I suppose with us doing this as twins, we like to be doing the same thing and getting the same results.

“We share everything, Ben wanted to share my insurance payout,” she joked.

Chairman of the British Schools Commission (BSJC), Malcolm Collins added:

“I am very pleased with the organisation and effort that the BJA has put into the event.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of this event and we couldn’t have done this without their help. “Everyone who took part in the event as a competitor and as a volunteer deserves ample recognition.”

To view the medal winners from British Schools click here. For the English Open click here.

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All the medal and action photos can be viewed on facebook

Words by Donna Richardson and images by Mike Varey and Donna Richardson.