A squad from Coleraine Judo Club attended the recent Northern Ireland Open Championships at Queen’s University PE Centre in Belfast.
This was a high level event featuring top players and officials from all over the UK and Ireland.
Included were British Olympians Gemma Gibbons (silver medallist) and Sophie Cox who competed at the London 2012 Olympics.
Coleraine was represented at the Open by Declan Kelly, Stephen Cuckoo, Abigail McAfee, David Kennedy, Reece Fraser, Robyn Fraser, Caitlin McMahon, Jack Mathews, Joel Duncan, Philip Duncan (Coach), Peter Cuckoo (Officiating) and Richard Briggs (Officiating). Special congratulations to the Coleraine medallists Declan Kelly (Gold, U90kg), David Kennedy (Silver, U50kg), Reece Fraser (Silver, U42kg), Robyn Fraser (Bronze, U40kg), Abigail McAfee (5th,U57kg) and Caitlan McMahon (5th, U36kg).
Stephen Cuckoo, Joel Duncan and Jack Matthews fought brilliantly in their respective categories but failed to make the medals against the more experienced players. They should be proud of the great effort put in and are a credit to the Coleraine Club.
Other judo success is Kingsley Hepburn’s promotion to black belt 1st Dan. Kingsley is a postgraduate student at UUC who trains regularly with Coleraine Judo Club. To obtain a black belt in judo is an important goal in a player’s career and unlike many martial arts is very much a ‘senior award’. In judo a black belt is normally achieved during the late teens or early twenties, even for the most talented players. The rules require a player to defeat no less than 10 brown belt 1st Kyu’s (100 points) over a period of time or defeat five brown belts in one day at a grading examination.
Having achieved the contest requirement a player must pass a judo technical examination which requires knowledge of nearly 100 judo techniques. Higher Dan grades require further rigorous training along with knowledge of judo and service to the sport.
Readers interested in trying this exciting Olympic combat sport for competition, self defence, exercise or just good fun should come along to the Leisure Centre on a Friday evening and give it a try.