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Samurai enjoy a stellar year
2:00pm Thursday 10th January 2013 in Local
IN a year dominated by the building of their fantastic new premises, Kidderminster’s Samurai Judo Club still had time and energy for some achievements on the mat itself.
The four outstanding achievements were Andy Marston’s gold medal at the Commonwealth Championships, twin golds at the British Junior National Championships for Darcie Hancocks and Bryony Griffiths, with Leah Grosvenor taking silver, and the ladies team taking the gold at the prestigious Bev Price Team Championships.
Griffiths topped the medals table for both club and county, with a total of 16 medals including the British gold and two international medals.
Brendan Crummy won gold at the Dai-Ippo Open in Eindhoven, while Sarah Biles’ comeback to competition saw her take silver as Samurai won eight medals.
Kate Walker’s bid to compete at the Olympics sadly failed after controversial selection methods were used, but two former Samurai members, Kelly Edwards and Danny Williams, did compete.
The club also had eight officials involved in the judo arena.
Walker returned with head high to the Bev Teams and, together with Biles and Charis Hancocks, formed the strongest women’s team the club has ever fielded. They saw off a trio from Pinewood to take gold.
Darcie Hancocks took a clean sweep of all the major under-12 titles, winning gold at the London International, West of England, Welsh Open and finally thrashing everybody to romp home at the British Junior National Championships.
Leah Grosvenor nearly made it two golds but victory in the final eluded her and she had to settle for silver.
Few expected Griffiths to even medal at the British Nationals, but massive determination and brilliant tactics saw her win against the 16 best players in the country at her age and weight and take a tremendous gold.
Becky Hobby also won gold, alongside Darcie Hancocks, at the Welsh Open and Laura Dangerfield emerged as a new senior star with a series of major wins.
In June, the Samurai opened their new premises with a flourish, combining the opening with their annual get-together.
More than 120 members, including 30 black belts took to the mat, with the formal presentation including a stunning triple-kata display and a spectacular battle between Walker and Biles.
Ian Mills was presented with his fifth level black belt and Biles became only the second woman in the county, after Walker, to gain a competitive third level black belt.