The Granite City Grand Prix is a national judo competition held in Aberdeen every year. This year it was held on Saturday 18th June at Aberdeen Sports Village and Orkney Judo sent 5 under 14 years judoka to their first ever Judo competition. Up until then they had little to no experience with judo players from other clubs and what the difference would be between club training and competing against some of Scotland’s rising judo stars.
It certainly was an eye-opener for both the kids and their parents who accompanied them. Junior judo grades are split into Mons from 1st through to 18th (red belt through to brown belt) and cover a range of falling techniques to keep them from injury when thrown, throws and pins. The group competing were 2nd Mon through to 4th Mon so at the start of their judo journey but were competing against players from South up to 14th Mon. They are split into bands of boys and girls within set age and weight categories not by grade to compete. As we have a small club all our judoka were in different bands. Our kids are used to 1 on 1 randori (free practice) within the club and being watched by the rest of the club and maybe a few parents but were plunged into an arena being watched by about 250 other competitors from all over Scotland, their coaches and families. Nerve-racking? Yes. Scary? Most certainly. Intimidating? Exceedingly! Reanne Wylie level 1 assistant coach and Niall Allison level 2 assistant coach were there to reassure, coach and help them through their big day. Head coach Tony O’Donnell level 2 and Dorothy O’Donnell were in attendance to support the club members in the hardest competition they will ever experience – their first!
First fight in their first competition and adrenaline hits. Every single competitor took it in their stride and produced some of their best judo seen to date. They all fought hard and displayed some excellent techniques, but they unfortunately didn’t have any victories. No wins maybe but they all came away with a new experience, knowledge they had pushed themselves physically and mentally and dealt with the unknown. Our coaches are exceedingly proud of their performances and the way they handled themselves in defeat.
Both Reanne and Niall were also competing in their own divisions. Unfortunately for Reanne there were no points available towards her 1st Dan black belt due to lack of entrants, so she was purely fighting for a medal and with 1 win and 1 defeat she came home with her first medal and a silver no less. Niall had 4 fights, all points scoring, and a medal opportunity. After 2 losses he turned things round and won his last 2 fights scoring 20 more points towards his 100 needed for 1st Dan and taking a 3rd place bronze.
We have a lot to work on in the coming weeks and months with the Highland Budokan Grand Prix in Inverness next on the calendar in October where we hope to have a good representation again. On behalf of Orkney Judo, we would like to thank NorthLink Ferries for sponsorship travelling to and from Aberdeen including cabins and breakfast, The Douglas Hotel Aberdeen for accommodation and breakfast, Cosmo Aberdeen for their all you can eat buffet (a very well needed stop after the day), all the parents for their continued support and of course JudoScotland for organising the event.
Niall Allison (Secretary and Assistant Coach UKCC Level 2 at Orkney Judo)
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