IAPS Boys 8-9 Championships. 2017

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Saturday May 13th, saw six boys from two schools in attendance at the 8-9 Boys IAPS Judo Championships at High Wycombe Judo Centre, with Gleeson Judo. Hazlegrove Prep School, Sparkford and King Edward’s Junior School Bath.
It was a long hard day, with 139 participants, the day was scheduled to finish at two-thirty but only wound up by 5.15! Just to illustrate how long the day turned out to be! This of course really puts a lot more pressure on the young athletes who are competing! This is actually the first time Gleeson Judo have taken any boys to this age band of the IAPS champs. A new experience for all and why we only had so few! Its the youngest level for boys judo at Prep schools. This really does mean that for those who are going for the first time it is fundamentally all about experience. Whether any medals are won or not is not our priority. Its the education of the tournament that is the goal. The pressure, stresses and strains of this kind of event for such young judo players is quite enough to cope with, without adding expectations of medal winning to all that!
The day was very positive, all the boys fought hard, used all the knowledge and training we had given them in preparation for this event, which is all that was expected of them. Its a tough place to be, out in front of hundreds of people, some cheering for you, some against you, no-one to help but yourself, its hard. I was really proud of all the boys, their spirit was awesome, in the true sense of the word! F H-H, of Hazlegrove had to fight his way through the repêchage (five fights), loosing his first and last, so just missing a bronze medal. His efforts were enormous, you could see the
exhaustion in his face at the end of each fight! Such tenacity! DB, also of Hazlegrove, really surprised all of us, least of all himself by actually winning a bronze medal! Having only done judo for the shortest of times, he wasn’t really sure of anything he did, least of all winning! At the end of every fight, he’d ask, “the referee put his arm like this, towards me, what does that mean?” “You won!” I’d have to tell him… What a lovely lad?

It’s a long day for the coach too (especially when the M4 is closed in both directions for the whole weekend, as you route to the venue!). But seeing the boys do their best, getting through all the pain & anguish of the contests they have to fight, it does leave me impressed and happy to have been part of such a life changing experience for all of them. Its what Gleeson Judo is all about, not the winning of medals, the winning of the individual, his or her ability to do something they’ve never done before! Education, pure and simple. Im humbled to see them do so much!
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