This weekend was the 2012 edition of the London University Open – the third one that we have attended. For a change it had moved from the fairly convenient Uxbridge location to the University of East London’s sports centre in Docklands. That meant a pretty antisocial start time but after a dawn tour of central London Christmas lights, we arrived at just after 8am, in need of coffee.
We had five people entered (Charlotte, Dan, Josh, Szymon and Riccardo), and girls were up first so Charlotte was the first person on the mat.
With entries split by weight, grade, and age, some categories were small and Charlotte ended up lined up with a best of 3 situation with one other u70kg green belt. The first fight was unfortunately lost after a strong start when a tani-otoshi attempt was countered; we had a good plan to even things up in fight 2 but a bad landing led to Charlotte re-injuring her left shoulder and a painful end to the day for her but with a nice silver medal for her trouble
Next up Dan and Josh were on adjacent mats in the u73 and u81 3rd/2nd kyu category.
Josh had a pool of 4 players and started his first fight strongly with some good attacks, unfortunately the fight went on a touch too long, fitness was the decider and and Josh was caught for ippon with 15 seconds to go. With other fights coming fast there was little chance to recover and despite best efforts, no medal this time.
In Dan’s category there were 2 pools of 3 and keen to guarantee a medal Dan went out in determined mood. The first contest went almost immediately to the ground and an ippon hold. The second contest was over even quicker with a nice uchi mata for ippon.
With the pool dealt with the next contest was the semi final. This was a tougher affair with players very evenly matched. After good attacking judo from both sides the contest went all the way through golden score to hantei. Unfortunately, a good sode tsuri komi goshi attempt that would have scored a clear koka in old money was enough for Dan’s opponent to take the decision and go through to the final but the bronze medal was well deserved.
Final act for us was the u81 dan grade category with Szymon and Riccardo taking part. A look around as the players gathered made it obvious it was going to be a tough proposition with many players sporting patches from international competitions and GB/england squad badges.
Riccardo was first up and put on a positive display which saw him start to edge out an advantage as his opponent was penalised for passivity. Unfortunately a moment’s lapse in concentration saw him caught with ippon seoi nage for ippon.
Szymon’s first contest was with one of those GB squad players. It was a hard fought battle but ultimately Szymon was out powered and dropped to the repechage knock out with Riccardo. His opponent moving on to ultimately take silver.
In the repechage the tough draw continued and there was no joy there either. Szymon’s luck was to move from an eventual finalist to then tackle an eventual bronze medallist!
While we have returned with more medals from this tournament before, the main aim was to get out and see where we need to do work before BUCS and everyone fought with great spirit and desire. Stand out performance of the day was Dan’s bronze medal which came from some very well executed contests.