The 2014 International Blind Sports Association Judo World Championships are set to take place from Monday 1st to Sunday 7th September at Colorado Springs, USA.
The GB team includes Jono Drane (-81kg), Gavin Towers (-81kg), Christopher Skelley (-100kg), Jack Hodgson (+100kg) and Natalie Greenhough (-70kg).
The Championships that take place at the US Olympic training centre is the first qualifying event for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The venue has state of the art training and competition facilities, athlete dorms, cafeteria and seating for 1,500 spectators.
Ahead of the competition the majority of the squad have been training at the facilities at the British Judo Association’s Centre of Excellence in Walsall.
2013 VI Junior World Champion Christopher Skelley has a rare form of Ocular Albinism. When asked if he was confident of winning the senior tournament, the 20 year old said “This will be my first senior World Championships so if I can get a place it will be brilliant. The main difference is the strength of the players from junior to senior level. I hope I can do well.
“We’ve got a video analysis coach so we have been doing tuition sessions for an hour on a Tuesday. We pick an opponent and then think about how I can adapt to beat them.”
The youngest member of the squad is 17 year old Jack Hodgson who has Ushers Syndrome, a relatively rare genetic disorder that is a leading case in deaf-blindness. When asked about his expectations for the World Championships, he said “This will be my first senior competition so I’m just looking forward to seeing how I do.
“I have increased my training for the tournament, changed my diet and spent a lot of time in the gym.”
Denny Roberts is one of the coaches who trains the GB VI athletes. He said “I’m looking forward to the event. We have a good mix of athletes going to the event and we should do well.”
Sam Ingram was due to compete but he suffered an injury in training.
Words by Aaron Fowler.