The excellent Ali was our only entry in this year's first EJC trip and he gave us a fantastic start to the year. His judo was superb as he worked his way into the final. The final was a tougher bout and Ali had to settle for a silver, but it was a great day for him. Well done Ali.
Ali with his medal in Worthing.
Twenty-six of our wonderful beginners trooped out to compete at this fun and friendly home event. The results follow:
GOLD Marius Maillefaud
GOLD James Sookias
GOLD Showgo Kimura
GOLD Matthew Butcher
GOLD Ibrahim Abdelaal
GOLD Maxime Cacaly
GOLD Alexander Legon
GOLD Luka Kljutic
GOLD Georgina White
GOLD Daniel Vary
GOLD Bojan Cecaric
SILVER Tohgo Kimura
SILVER Sam Butcher
SILVER Andrew Aresti
SILVER Amir Asgari
SILVER Ali Abdelaal
SILVER Jack Mouradian
SILVER Jonathan Sookias
SILVER Hanna Toogood
BRONZE Mathilde Cacaly
BRONZE Popi Aresti
BRONZE Matthieu Duarte
BRONZE Paul Duarte
BRONZE Pierre Maillefaud
BRONZE Laurence Legon
BRONZE Elliot Hawkins-Ahmed
There was an impressive display of judo from these youngsters. They have all started the year magnificently. A special outstanding performance award was presented to Georgina for her efforts, especially as it was her first experience of contest judo - she showed great promise and great spirit.
This was an absolutely excellent event for our young fighting squad. Although it was run a bit slower than we would have like (long drive home and all that...) it was the perfect level. The organisers were so welcoming and the bacon rolls were a pleasant breakfast treat.
In the Under 10's section we entered just Showgo and Ali. I believe this pair will dominate in their categories as they come up through the ranks. They are focussed, train hard and listen well. Their judo is superb for such young EJC members. Suffice it to say they both won gold. Well done boys.
Yugo was our only member in the under 16 yellow belt section, but he performed excellently, taking a silver.
Then in the any grade u18 section 5 more EJC super stars took to the mat. Elliott Chamberlain gave an astoundingly confident performance, considering it was his first tournament for over a year and a half. No medal, but a great display.
Conor fought very well in his new weight group and took a bronze to boot. Some lovely footwork earned him his medal. Lucy, was strong and uninhibited as always, fighting much older girls as if she was the seasoned pro, not them. She worked hard and won herself a bronze as a reward for her efforts.
Harkirat then won a silver in the 36's and Akhil was commanding and cool on his journey to the gold. Well done all; it was a lovely weekend, made so by the company of our great fighters. Also, a big thank you to Conor's dad, Harry, who stepped in at the last minute to drive with us.
Harry with some of the stonking EJC fighters at Newburn.
Rohan has improved sooooo much over the last year or so! At the Nationals he pulled a terrific bronze medal. Well, this weekend he consolidated that result earning himself another bronze. This puts Rohan in line to be invited to the European selection fight off event in Sheffield in March. Still a year young in the age band - what an achievement. Well done Rohan. Keep up the good work.
Our Akhil has been developing his judo at an astonishing rate. Following his excellent performances last year he was invited to be a member of the GB Cadet Squad. Since then he has continued to improve. His determination is a credit to him, as demonstrated at this tough international event.
Akhil had 7 contests in all, including opposition from Estonia, Japan, Latvia and Lithuania. Following a loss in the earlier rounds (to the eventual gold medalist) Akhil was pulled back in to the repecharge. There he dominated in 4 more fights, to win a well deserved bronze.
It was an excellent event, at which the organisers were very helpful. It was also pleasing to be up against Japanese children, who we rarely meet in European competitions. I am already looking forward to going again next year.
Akhil on the rostrum at Alytus, Lithuania.
Ellis and mum at the venue.
Out in the snow (minus 10 degrees, pretty chilly!) with the only other British competitor at the event, John Jayne.
We took 4 excellent young fighters to this tournament in Essex. Each of our boys had 3 contests. Matthew, Jonathan & Daniel each won a bronze and Ali won another great gold to add to his growing collection. Well done to all of the boys.
On the Saturday Phoebe and Harkirat had a tough time. No medals, but admirably both decided to train harder and aim for better results in the near future.
Lucy fought well in the u63kg group and won a bronze, while Akhil, still on top form, stormed his way into the final. There he beat current National Bronze Medalist Oliver Gibbs-Murray, to take the gold. Another superb result for Akhil.
On the Sunday Mr consistent, Rohan, fought well to earn himself a bronze too. This should see him take a place at the Cadet Trials in Sheffield, for the -17 Europeans in the Summer.
This was Sevani's first tournament. Entered into the Kyu grade group he was a little nervous but looking forward to testing out his newly learned skills. He fought excellently and although disappointed there weren't more opponents, earned a silver. Good job.
Lyam fought too. In the high grade section he won a great bronze and 10 points towards his Dan Grade.
The susprise entry came from Jo... Yes that's right, Jo - the coach. You know, the one who doesn't compete anymore! Pushed and prodded into competing by the competition organiser (Nicky, I will have my revenge...) Jo (me) agreed to fight. I had two contests and won both by ippon to win a gold. Shockingly I didn't break anything in the process, although my lungs did feel like they were being punished for something! I also earned 10 points, so pretty pleased really.
Me (lol), Lyam & Sevani.
Rohan was our only entrant in this international event. Bravely he fought in both the Cadet and Junior (-20) sections and to his credit he took medals in both: a gold in the Cadet group and silver when he stepped up to the older section. Very well done.
The Maltese Federation were extremely helpful and welcoming. We will definitely travel to this event again.
Rohan with his two trophies.
Out with the lads, celebrating their victories.
Rohan has fought superbly over the last 6 months or so and so was invited to attend this prestigious event. He was placed 3rd in SHeffield and although that means no Europeans this year, things look very promising for next year as Rohan is still a baby in the age band.
This is great event - not always the most efficiently organised, but always welcoming and with a perfect standard of judo for our developing fighters.
This year Lucy and Showgo each won gold and there were 5 excellent bronze medals from Matthew, Kai, Bojan, Paul & Luka.
I was very proud of my team as they conducted themselves perfectly over the two day tournament. They were a pleasure to have around and I can't wait until my next trip away with them. Well done gang.
BELOW: Lucy with her trophy.
Another great judo weekend! Rohan, Harkirat, Phoebe, Akhil and Lucy were great company throughout the weekend. The tournament was, as always, a perfect event to test out the fighters' contest skills abroad. Harkirat and Lucy took bronzes, as did Akhil. His bronze was particularly hard fought having needed 4 wins in the repercharge to earn the medal. He performaed this task with fantastic composure and professionalism, never once losing his cool.
I can't think of many times EJC have been to an event and all entrants have won a gold, but this was one of those terrific days. Ali won the under 27s with 4 straight ippons. Harkirat destroyed the 36s with little opposition. Lucy had one of her best days ever, beating her nemesis, Holly Fielding, for the first time, to take her top spot on the rostrum.
A huge well done to these 3 fighters who always train to the best of their ability. This is now paying dividends in competition.
BELOW: Our 3 fabulous gold medal winners in the cafe! Read the board behind them - says it all, I think!
An unusual EJC entry in that only girls signed up for this trip. We had a really good time in Stockholm, darting around on public transport, eating good meals, being a bit girly...
The tournament was not as well attended as I would have liked but the contest experience gained by our 3 girls was valuable all the same. Soraya fought the combined -48/52kg group and took bronze, despite some pretty rough nerves. Lucy won gold in the combined -63/+63kg group, with little resistence to be honest.
Hmm... Harkirat... well, she was a warrior, displaying nothing but the true spirit of judo. Only having one contest in her weight group and winning it easily she was then asked to fight in the weight above. SHe accepted the challenge and rose to it, beating a Swede in her first fight, a Fin in her quarter final and another Fin in the semi, to take her in to the final. This missive cannot accurately describe just how tough each of thsoe contests was - Harkirat really had to dig deep, using every ounce of judo intelligence and technique she could muster.
Then in the final, against a very good fighter, Rehn of Sweden, Harkirat fell foul of a Swedish safety rule. Although armlocks were allowed in this age band once the arm is straight the referee is bound to call ippon, regardless of whether the lock is actually on. Harkirat found herself in this position at about half way through the contest, with no other scores on the board.
Although Harkirat was disappointed not to have won she understood the rule was there for her own protection and so graciously accepted her silver medal. It was a gutsy and strategic performance, one of her best yet.
Well done to the whole team and thanks to our Club Welfare Officer for coming along and being great company. It was good to be able to show her what our international excursions are all about.
(Incidentally, EJC ended up 8th in the medal table - pretty good with only 3 participants!)
A well organised age banded event, with an inclusive and friendly atmosphere. Amir, Jonathan, Laurence, ALexander, Daniel and Soraya all fought in their respective weight groups and although did not win medals this time all fought well.
Jonathan then elected to try his luck in the 'open' section and there he fared better, earning a bronze.
The brothers Abdelaal each won a gold, winning all of their contests by the maximum ippon. It was great to see little Ibrahim following in his big brother's footsteps.
Lastly there was the human dynamo that is tiny James Sookias. He went at it with the determination of a far more mature fighter and with impressive focus. What was especially pleasing was throuhout his preparation and contests the smile never left his face - he had such a great time! James won a gold for his trouble, a worthy result.
James, Amir & Ibrahim... between contests!
I just love this event! So welcoming and so much thought always goes into providing opportunities for all to succeed. They love to see good judo.
Sevani, with his newly earned green belt, fought in the senior section and won a great bronze. John also took a bronze, but in the next weight up in the senior categories.
Harkirat won her gold fairly easily in the Juniors. Also Rifqa joined us - a welcome return to competition after a short break. She fought in a relaxed and calm way and at the end of 6 contests had won the gold. Very well done to Rifqa and the rest of the crew.
As always this was a high quality event with participants from all over Europe and even a team from Nepal! We had 7 fighters from EJC: In the youngest age band Showgo, Ibrahim and Ali all fought extremely well, no medals, but a wealth of experience was gained. Rohan was as reliable as usual, fighting well, but sadly sustained an injury to his shoulder in his second match and that put him out of this year's tournament. Maybe next year, eh?
Our B Banders were great though - Harkirat didn't consolidate her medal winning form from 2007, but was still hard working and learned throughout her day. Akhil had an amazing 7 contests, winning 5 of them, including 3 by ippon, but as with last year, no medal. I feel sure he will fix that next year!
Lucy was pretty damn awesome in the -63 kg group. True to form she forced her way in to the final after 3 tough contests. In the final a very poor referee's call cost her the gold (apology received from the IJF referee in charge of the mat, but the decision could not be reversed as per the IJF rules). Lucy is only the second EJC member to reach the Venray finals - the other being Ken in 2005 & 2006. I believe Lucy has a very bright future in judo.
For a treat we all had dinner in the fantastic Japanese tempanyaki restaurant in Waalwijk - it's expensive but worth it, with a great cookery show as well as some of the finest Japanese cuisine you could eat. You should try it some time - a real gem, even the children enjoyed it!
Left to right: Dinner, dessert, Lucy with her silver medal at the tempanyaki restaurant & Harkirat fighting at Venray.
Usually this event is a really enjoyable day, but since the judo has been separated from the rest of the finals the enjoyment has severely decreased. The organisation is now handled by people who don't even live in London - the previous organisers were so much more efficient and inclusive.
This year was sadly the poorest Youth Games I have been to. When we arrived the mats were still being laid and all groups were severely delayed. There were no scales and so all entries were taken on trust... not necessarily the best policy as children can grow pretty eratically and this event has the most ridiculously long closing date. There weren't enough officials, having timetabled it on the same day as the Kent International. The weigh in time was changed at very late notice and so some participants sat around for hours unecessarily. All in all the organisation was poor. On top of that the children were rewarded with the tiniest medals - I heard one child calling them 'thumb-sized'.
Anyway, our EJC fighters did themselves proud. Kai fought up a weight as the lightest weight at the event was one below his own. He gave it his best shot but no medal this time. David, Yugo and Eliot all had a great day, despite them not having trained as much as I might have liked beforehand. Each won 2 contests and lost two, placing them 5th. Eliot's result was especially pleasing as he was by far the youngest fighter in his group but his judo was far in advance of his years.
Soraya used some excellent groundwork to earn herself a bronze medal and Conor was fantastic, winning 3 out of 4 contests by ippon and winning himself a silver medal.
Well what can I say? Only Akhil came along today, but wow, what a fighter. He stormed through 5 fights, beating National medalists along the way. He was focussed and strong and took the gold at the end of a nail-biting final - a super performance. Well done Akhil.
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