SAMURAI Judo Club took a strong squad to the Netherlands for two judo competitions and had one of their most successful trips to date, with seven medals including two golds.

Seven of the eight Samurai players on the trip were British National medallists, including three British champions, so hopes were high before they went, but the results exceeded all expectations.

On Saturday they were at the Open Zeeuws Championships in Vlissingen, on the north coast of Holland. Jake Ashen was outstanding: he had four contests and won each one by maximum point throws with some spectacular judo to take the gold. This was despite moving up a weight group on the day, and his movement and range of throws were excellent. Loic Keasey was also superb, again moving up a weight group to stay apart from Jake: he won all three of his contests by maximum points as well to take a second gold for the club, with some excellent tactical work. James Harrison and Harry Ashen, in the same categories as Jake and Loic respectively, fought well but just missed out on the medals, although James so impressed the organizers that he was given a special award.

Olivia Turner was on good form, and three wins took her into the final of her open weight category, but in the final a much heavier girl finally got the better of her and she had to settle for silver.

Jack Walker and Martin Allen were both in the same category. Jack reached the semi-final with some good wins before losing, whilst Martin went out in the earlier rounds but fought his way back through the repechage to get into the bronze contest. Unfortunately this was against Jack, and Jack won to take the bronze.

The much younger Mateo Allen was the last player to compete. He was there more for experience than anything else, but did well to win a contest and had a good go in his other two contests.

On Sunday the club moved on to the Breda Open, just outside Antwerp. This was a much larger event, and also several of the squad were tired from Saturday, but they were very much on a high which carried them through to another good set of results.

Olivia started the ball rolling with a bronze medal, losing to a very good Dutch black belt in the semi-final. Mateo Allen again fought well and had another win in the younger age band.

Martin Allen and Jack Walker were again in the same category, albeit with a bigger and stronger field than the day before, and history repeated itself. Jack has a series of good wins to reach the semi-final, which he was unlucky to lose against the run of play, whilst Martin went out earlier but again fought his way through the repechage with some excellent wins, only to once again come up against Jack for the bronze medal. Jack is older, heavier and more experienced and he won again to take the bronze, although this time Martin made it a much closer match. Martin’s performance, like James’ the previous day, earned him a special award.

Jake Ashen and James Harrison were again in the same category, and again the much younger James had a good go but could not get into the medals. Jake was, however, on excellent form again, and recorded a series of wins including one throw from a moment of pure inspired genius, spotting an opportunity and taking it with perhaps the most unorthodox throw from a Samurai player in many years, but he finished just outside the medals after a narrow defeat against the run of play.

Loic Keasey, however, would not be denied. Competing in an open weight category when he was only marginally over the weight limit, he was up against players who were all older and heavier than himself, in some cases much heavier, but he just kept on winning. Three excellent wins took him into the final against a player some 15 kilos heavier than himself, 82 kg against his 67 kg, and even there he had a good go but was eventually caught by sheer power and weight of the other player and had to settle for silver. Harry Ashen had a good go in the same category.

Samurai Head Coach Andrew Haffner said: "One of the things that pleased me most was the number of coaches from Dutch clubs, especially on Saturday, who came up to me and said how much they enjoyed watching our players’ judo. But also, when you take eight players to a competition, you expect some to do better than expected and some to be on par and one or two perhaps not quite up to their normal level. On this weekend, on both days, all eight players were well above their normal levels, with Jake and Loic being exceptional on both days.”

For details about starting judo, telephone 0776 1122977 or visit the Samurai website at or their Facebook page.