Inverness Leisure Centre hosted 38 judo clubs from around Scotland for the annual Highland Budokan Grand Prix on Saturday 1st October. This is the last major competition of the year and the second for half of our squad. For a change the 9 competitors from Orkney weren’t the furthest travelled, this accomplishment went to the members of Castle Douglas and Dumfries Judo clubs. An early weigh-in at 8.00am meant an overnight stay and although the weather was against us all but 1 made it safely.
Come competition day and 3 of our 6 junior judokas had not attended a competition before. They enter the arena where there are 4 mats laid, “big, scary dudes in suits” as one member referred to the referees and table officials, computer screens and scoreboards, about 300 judokas from the 38 clubs plus family and friends. The arena is packed. The various coaches, officials and judoka greet one another as we move through the seating area until we find a space to sit as a club. Some sit in silence, some chat, some ask questions, some play on their phones, some read, and some try to work out who they will be competing against that day. Whatever it takes to relax. The coaches are on hand to help with whatever their competitors and some of their parents need to assist them relax and prepare them for what’s to come.
For junior competition judoka are divided by age, sex and weight. For adults it is split my sex, weight and then 1st Kyu brown belts and Dan grades (those fighting for Dan grade promotion) and those who blue belt and below who are not yet eligible for points scoring. We had 6 junior and 2 senior judoka attending all competing in different categories. Every one of our junior squad fought well and although most were out graded by the others in their category as a club we did extremely well. Some of their opponents we development players from other clubs. These are the future national heroes of the Scottish judo community. Our juniors won 1 gold medal, 2 silver medal and a bronze. Niall and Reanne who are both assistant coaches not only had higher grades to compete against but also a lot younger competitors but brought home 2 bronze medals and Reanne who competed in an open category (of any grade to allow another competitor to gain competition experience and mat time in competition) picked up a silver in doing so. Niall added another 10 points score towards his 1st Dan Black Belt total bringing it to 50. Points can only be score competing against players of 1st Kyu and above.
Once again, the club was commended by various officials and coaches on their commitment to attend these events with the difficulty of travelling to and from and additional accommodation required. The support of the parents is paramount in the success of our competitors.
Roll on 2023 when the Grand Prix season starts again and hopefully Orkney Judo can once again proudly put Orkney on the map amongst Scotland’s judoka.
Orkney Judo club are proud of all our judoka as well as the squad who would not have been able to attend without the support of our parents, adult helpers and sponsorship from Pentland Ferries and Cooke Aquaculture.
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