Report submitted by Samurai Judo Club

OLIVIA Turner scooped four awards at the Samurai Judo Club’s 2017 Awards Presentation, narrowly edging out Leah Grosvenor who took three awards.

Olivia won Best Referee Performance from the Welsh Schools Championships, edging out Stefan Newbury’s performance at the European Club Championships, and she also won Best Kata Performance with her kata partner Luke Mole for their groundwork kata at the European SN Championships, which took the silver medal.

Olivia also won the award for highest attendance during the year with a club record of 257 sessions attended, and also won the ‘most medals won’ award with 21 medals, just ahead of Leah with 20.

Leah, on the other hand, won the ‘most national and international medals won’ award with 11, just ahead of Olivia on 10.

Leah also won ‘Achievement of the Year’ for winning the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas, becoming the second Samurai player (after Andy Marston some years ago) to win a Commonwealth gold medal.

She also took the ‘Contest of the Year’ award for her win against a top British player at the British under-20 Nationals.

Runners-up for that award with clubmates Nathan Gallacher and Joe Perry for their great battle in superb sportsmanship at the Warwick Teams early in the year, and Nathan’s tremendous throw which won that contest took the ‘Throw of the Year’ award, just ahead of Rob Starbuck’s sacrifice throw at the same event.

Martin Allen took the ‘Best Groundwork’ award for his performance at the British Schools Championships.

Lucas Kent took ‘Best Performance at a Competition’ with his outstanding four wins at the Rod Lane Championships, just ahead of Jake Ashen’s superb tactical display at the Welsh Open.

Considering that the other three in the top five for that category with Gary Knight, James Harrison and Loic Keasey for the performances which won each of them a gold at the British Championships, this was perhaps the strongest category of the year: other performances nominated in the top 20 here included some great youngsters such as Joe Blanchfield, Isaac Sobolewski, Harrison Flello, Scott Hulbert and Katy Jennings, as well as veterans Mark Allen and Dan Matei.

Team events have always been something the Samurai, with their strong club ethos, have done well in and valued.

This year, the coaches could not decide between two outstanding teams efforts and so made them the joint recipients of the ‘Best Team Performance’ award.

The one team was their Men Kyu Grades Team from the Warwick Open, which featured a mix of young and older players with Spencer Benton, Martin Allen, Lucas Kent, Ryan Killworth, Rob Starbuck, and Nick Ashen, who clocked up four teams wins.

The other recipients were the veterans “Mike’s Mega Massive Merry Men” from the Bev Teams, the team being Mike Chamberlain, Matt Dutton and Martin Brown.

This was the first ever judo veteran team event to be held in the UK, and the Samurai team took gold out of the 12 teams entered.

Best Young Junior was Nick Deeley for the second consecutive year, Best Junior Beginner was Isaac Sobolowski, Best Intermediate Junior was Katy Jennings, Best Training Partnership was Ellie McAteer and Jake Ashen, Best Junior Attitude was Jake Ashen from the boys and Cerys Jones from the girls, and Best Parent Player was Mark Allen.

Volunteering has also always been something highly valued by the club and their Volunteer Award went to Rob Alloway.

Finally, perhaps the most valued award, ‘The Rod Lane Award’ went to Martin Brown, who won the British Police Championships again this year and was one of the team who won gold at Bev Teams as mentioned earlier, but the award is as much for his great sporting attitude over the years and patience in helping others on the mat as for anything else: the coaches always look for someone to receive this award who has shown the best of judo spirit all round.

In his early years at the club nearly twenty years ago, Martin was one of Rod’s pupils, so it was a nice way to remember once more Rod, who was one of the club’s greatest characters.