It was a typically hectic start to the BUCS weekend with 7 players in action across various categories.
U81 Dan Grades
First action of the day was with Marc and Szymon in the always large u81 dan grade group. Both had similar experiences in their pools, winning one contest but losing to a stronger opponent but it was enough to take them to the knockout stage. Rather cruel luck with the knockout draw meant that each drew the player the other had lost to in the pools. Both stepped up to the challenge, Szymon taking an early yuko lead in his contest but unfortunately getting caught for waza ari and a hold down with around a minute to go. Marc had the tougher draw against Roy Shepherd from Edinburgh and though he fought well was caught for a big ippon hip throw to leave him waiting to see if he might come back into the repechage.
U90 and U66 Dan Grades
Meanwhile various other categories had been kicking off. Will had drawn a tough pool in u66 kg dan grades, with 2 experienced players. Despite some strong attacks and determined fighting he wasn’t able to get the win he needed to go on to the knockout stage. Alex was making his BUCS debut at u90 kg and also drew a very tough pool and was not able to make his way to the knockout.
In the kyu grade categories, Dan was up first in u73 and though carrying a knee injury from his last training session he recovered from the loss of his first contest (to the eventual gold medallist) to win his second contest and move to the knockout.
Helen was seeded in u57 kyu following her silver medal last year and despite limited training opportunities after her time in Spain, she fought in her usual determined way to win the pool and make her way into the knockout.
Final player to get on the mat was Callum fighting at u81 kyu in his first BUCS. With a pool of 4 he had 3 contests to take care of in order to secure a place in the knockout. With some very assured fighting he won all 3 contests by ippon with a fine variety of technique (strangle, o uchi gari and tate shiho gatame).
Moving into the knockout phase, Helen decided to stop using the full contest duration and won the first round in just 2 minutes with a hold down. Unfortunately she came up against tougher opposition in the semi final and despite fighting to the bitter end she lost to a yuko hold down. This put her into the bronze medal match but despite another persistent full length contest she was unable to get the better of her opponent who held a waza ari lead to the end leaving Helen in 5th.
Dan was feeling the effects of his knee injury and the challenge fighting at u73 near the bottom end of the weight range, and he was held down for ippon in the first round with his opponent not able to bring him back into the repechage.
Meanwhile, Marc’s last opponent had moved into the final bringing him back into the repechage. A cagey tactical first contest saw Marc edge out his opponent on penalties. The next contest was for a place in the repechage final to fight for bronze; it was another cagey contest but unfortunately ended in a loss to a strong ippon throw. But a 7th place finish is a respectable result in one of the toughest categories of the event.
That left just Callum in action with another large knockout to work through. Making short work of the first round with another ippon throw, in the second round against a Bath player Callum made the mistake of underestimating his opponent and in a momentary loss of focus was thrown for ippon. Fortunately the Bath player then carried on through to the final giving Callum the chance to work through the repechage and fight for Bronze.
Winning the first round with another hold there was just one fight left to secure the bronze medal. A final focussed performance was rewarded with a final ippon throw and a well deserved bronze medal. Having fought 7 contests, 6 had been won by ippon with just one loss.
In a nice piece of symmetry, Ilya from Southampton Solent took the other bronze in the same category.
A very impressive and determined performance from everyone; with lots of lessons learned to apply next year.
Complete breakdown of results is here : http://www.judotechnologies.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/BUCS-National-Championships-2014-Results.pdf