THE first competition hosted by Samurai Judo Club in 2019 was their green belt and under open championships for juniors. Approximately 120 players from 28 different clubs attended the event at the club’s purpose-built Zortech Avenue premises, and the Samurai players themselves clocked up five gold medals,. Four silvers and four bronzes.

The first section was the boys yellow belts and below, and Samurai started off with Jordan Phillips taking gold with maximum point wins all the way against players from Builth Wells, Stroud and Hereford. His older brother Luke then made it two golds out of two, also with maximum point wins all the way against players from Birmingham, Halesowen and Stroud.

Scott Hulbert brought up the hat-trick of golds, winning all four of his contests by maximum points. Joe Blanchfield was in the same category and added a bronze to the Samurai tally.

The boys higher grade categories featured some very good judo. Harrison Flello and Mateo Allen fought well but finished just outside the medals, although Harrison did well to beat a green belt from Shepton Mallet in his first contest. Next up was Dillon Walker, who had an epic 8½ minute match in his first contest against an England Squad player which he just lost on penalties, but a win in his next contest took him through the pool and a semi-final win brought him into the final and a rematch with the same player. This time they fought for another 6½ minutes before Dillon was caught by a good throw and had to settle for silver. With contests of that length, given how intensive a judo contest is, it was a good job that Dillon has been using the club’s new upstairs gym to improve his fitness!

The next weight group was a single pool and featured two Samurai players, James Harrison and Evan Turner. James won his first match comfortably, but then fought Evan and went in for a throw without breaking Evan’s balance. Evan took his opportunity to counter for maximum points, arguably the shock of the competition. This left James needing to win his last contest against a very strong and much older Gloucester player by maximum points to take the gold. Jake took an early lead and was always on the attack, but couldn’t get the second score he needed and so, although he won the contest, he ended up with silver, whilst Evan, who had earlier lost to the same player, won the bronze.

The last of the Samurai boys to compete was Callum Spencer. Making his competition comeback after over a year away from contest, Callum, a former British National silver medallist with the club, looked sharp and won two contests by maximum points to reach the final, but then lost a close match to a very strong player from Shepton Mallet and had to settle for silver.

Sophie Davis was the only Samurai girl on this occasion in the girls lower grades section, but she did not disappoint, winning all three of her contests against players from Stroud, Worcester and Wolverhampton by maximum points to take the gold. She was then allowed to also enter the higher grades section and, very much on form, won all three of her contests again by maximum points, including beating two green belts, to take her second gold medal of the day.

The final three Samurai players to compete were Cerys Jones, Rhea Turner and Maddi Haywood, but were unfortunately all in the same weight group. Rhea and Maddi, the two less experienced players, both did well to win bronzes and Maddi even gave Cerys some problems in the semi-final, but in the end it was Cerys who got through to the final. Cerys, however, was the lightest player in this open weight category and she was now up against a player 20 kilos heavier than herself from Bristol. Although Cerys fought well and was clearly the better player, the weight gap proved too much even for her and she had to settle for silver.

For details about starting judo, telephone 0776 1122977 or visit the Samurai website on or their Facebook page. Samurai are looking to recruit more members in 2019.