Saturday Feb 12th saw us leaving Southampton at the anti social time of 6.30am to get ourselves to Brunel University for this years London Universities Open – a grade banded event open to all university judo clubs.
Rather uncharacteristically the early start meant we arrived to an empty hall with plenty of time for those who had been borderline on weight to confirm they would be fighting in a heavier than usual category!
The competition was grade banded with categories for Novice to 5 Kyu, 4 Kyu to 2 Kyu, and 1 Kyu and above. We had 4 players in the intermediate category (Matt, Morgan, Herac and Lachlan) and 1 in the 1 Kyu category (Richard). It turned into a successful day out with 4 silver medals one in the 4k-2k category at under 60 kg, under 66 kg, under 73 kg and under 90 kg.
Morgan (u60) and Matt (u90) both had to fight in single pools to take their medals and both achieved this with wins via hold downs. Herac and Lachlan had more work to do with 2 pools followed by a knock out.
Herac was unlucky to lose his first fight having been in the lead but being caught in a hold in literally the final second of the match. He made up for that with a quick fire win in his second contest to secure a place in the knockout. Another quick win from a seoi-nage through put him in the final. Unfortunately as a natural 66kg player Herac struggled to deal with the strength of his opponent in the final and lost to an ippon hold but took a well deserved silver.
Lachlan decided to get value for money from the day. He won his first pool contest with a pair of nice waza-ari throws but after struggling with gripping he lost his second contest. Normally this would have been enough to get into the knockout but the pool was tied with an Ippon score for each player and everyone got to fight again. The first refight lasted literally seconds, Lachlan throwing a classic sumi gaeshi for ippon from the initial exhange of grips, then winning his second fight with a strong hold down.
Into the knock out and the semi final saw probably the best throw from our team of the day with a fully committed uchi mata for ippon. Unfortunately the final was one contest too far and having been caught for ippon, it was another Southampton silver.
Richard was the last player to compete, having spent all day supporting the rest of the team. Richard was fighting above his normal weight at under 81 kg and in a category full of strong players; unfortunately the draw was not in our favour and facing 2 strong fighters in succession meant Richard wasn’t able to challenge for another medal.
Everyone performed really well and it was a great chance to brush off contest cobwebs prior to the BUCS championship in March.
Also great to see on the day were strong performances from the other Hampshire university clubs at Solent and Winchester who we have been holding regular joint sessions with. They each took their own share of medals as well.
The full selection of my favourite photos from the day are on the club Flickr account at http://www.flickr.com/photos/southamptonuniversityjudo/sets/72157626038406200/