More glory for Warwick Judo

With term two racing by, it was about time for the most important weekend of the year for Warwick Judo: the fourth Annual Warwick University Judo Club Invitational Tournament. Last year 120 judoka participated, and this year even more were expected. The organisers were not disappointed, with over 160 judoka from over ten different universities and clubs attending, making Warwick’s the largest student-run competition in the country.

The day got off to a flying start with the Novice Men’s Individual Competition. This was a great chance for beginners to show off what they’d learnt since joining the club in October. Warwick entered 14 men in four different weight groups. In the under-66kg category, Alex Root and Ray Guo scored bronze medals with three brilliant wins apiece, compensating for two losses each in their first ever competitions. Maciej Maruszczak, Riku Qiao, Nicolas Vidron and Tom Hall all put in impressive performances as well, narrowly missing out on the knock out stages.

In the under-73kg category, Andrey Kulikov made an exceptional competition debut by not only winning all of his fights and the gold medal, but also impressing the judges so much with his judo that he won the ‘Men’s Throw of the Day’ award. Henry Makolle added a silver medal to his tally, with Matthew Felstead also competing, but unable to make it past the pool stage. Stephen Mendonça won all of his fights in the under-90kgs to secure his first gold medal.

The under-81kg group saw four of Warwick’s judoka fight it out for the medals. Frankie Foston was knocked out early on in the pool stages, whilst Dmitrijs Murins, Omar Marir and Jono Nicholas made it to the knockout rounds. In their first fight of the day, Nicholas and Marir went all out against each other, with the former scraping through just before time ran out to reach the final fight. Marir and Murins then fought for the bronze medal, with Marir taking the win. Jono Nicholas fought valiantly but just lost out on the gold, thus winning silver in his category.

Next up were the Women’s Intermediate and Advanced Competitions. In the Advanced categories, Women’s Team Captain Sophie Cox added another gold medal to her ever-growing tally, winning all five of her fights so dominantly that she also won the Hosaka Ippon Judo Award, a trophy given to the best performing judoka of the day. Sapphire Samiullah followed suit with a strong bronze medal in a very tough category that included some of the best university-level competitors in the country.

The intermediate women also performed brilliantly in the first competition that any of them had entered. In the under-63kg category, Rachael Bartlett secured a well-deserved silver medal with four wins, defeating fellow Warwick competitor Jenny Moore in the semifinals. Moore went on to receive the bronze medal. In the over-63kgs category, Beth Lindley fought well to also win a bronze medal.

After a tough morning of individual competitions it was time for the main event: the team categories. Warwick entered two teams into the Intermediate (below blue belt) Category and another two into the Advanced (above blue belt) Category.

Warwick Advanced A showcased exactly what the University’s Judo Club is all about, winning 21 of their 30 fights for an impressive final tally of five team wins and just one loss. Advancing to the finals, they faced a strong team from Nottingham University and were unable to seal the gold. All five fights went down to the wire, with one overrunning by a few seconds and the last ending in a draw. Thus the highly impressive team of Rustam Sethna, Antoine Rémond-Tiedrez, Thomas Grandjean, Matthew Edmans (from Oxford Brookes Judo Club), and Daniel Offen won a brilliant silver medal. Their performance on the day highlighted just how successful the new Focus Club program introduced this year is turning out to be.

Warwick Advanced B fought bravely through the pool stages but facing tough opposition they were unable to make the finals. They still managed to win two of their five team fights; well done to Matthew Havard, Sam Harris, John Wright (from Bangor Judo Club), Peter Wing and John Thornby for fighting hard and displaying some great sportsmanship.

The Intermediate teams did Warwick proud by dominating the category and taking both the gold and silver medals. Warwick A won all five of their fights with seventeen individual wins between them. Warwick B followed suit with three wins out of five and a total fifteen individual wins. The competition culminated with the final battle between A and B.

In the under-66kg group, Tom Brown of A beat Nicolas Vidron of B. Jack Griffiths of A followed suit, defeating Henry Makolle in a reverse of their last fight at Rod Lane. It seemed that A had all but won it, with a rematch between Omar Marir (A) and Jono Nicholas (B) in the under-81kg category to settle it. For the second time that day, the two took it to the limit with an amazing display of what they’d learnt in the beginner’s course. With only a few seconds left, Nicholas finally took Marir down, and the fight was back on.

In the under-90kgs, Stephen Mendonça of A and Pavel from Oxford Judo Club fought, with the latter evening up the score. At two wins apiece, the final result depended on the over-90kg players: Philip Hartley for A and Michael Chandler from Nuneaton JC for B. It was a tough fight, but Hartley nailed it in the end to secure the long awaited gold for Warwick Intermediate A.

Finally, after the medals had been presented and the prizes for ‘Throw of the Day’ awarded, it was time to announce the overall winner of the day.

Last year, the trophy was won by Warwick by the smallest of margins, but this year it was much clearer; the incredible performance of all of the University’s judoka meant that Warwick retained the championship, scoring more points than every other team combined.

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