THE annual Samurai Judo Club European Tour saw them take a squad of nine players to two international events in the Netherlands, returning with an excellent haul of seven medals including four golds.

The Saturday event, in Veendam in the north of the country, was really tough, with the full Dutch squad taking part as their first major event of the season. The Netherlands is a strong judo country and the Samurai players were really up against it. However, James Harrison won three of his four contests including some spectacular throws, only losing in the first round but then winning all three repechage contests to take the bronze.

Jake Ashen had a very tough category but started in blistering form, winning his first two matches in a category of 20 players to reach the semi-final. Here he fought well but was just edged out and had one more contest for the bronze. Again he fought well but was just caught by a neat technique against the run of play, leaving him just outside the medals in fifth place.

Jordan Phillips, the youngest player of the group, won two contests but finished just outside the medals in fifth place. His elder brother Luke also won a contest by a lightning counter, but was then eliminated. Due to a mix-up with the organisers, Maddie Averill had to move up two weight categories but still fought bravely and managed to beat a Dutch brown belt weighing over ten kilos more then herself, but could not get the one extra win she needed for a medal. Sophie Davis, Harry Ashen, Olivia Turner and Cerys Jones all fought well but could not get near the medals.

After something of a battering on day one, the Samurai Judo Club Squad moved on to Roermonde for day two, this time at the 4 Lions Cup. The team were determined to improve on their single medal of the day before, and they certainly did that.

Jordan Phillips was first up, but lost his first contest, perhaps unfortunately. However, this only seemed to spur him on and he won all three of the repechage contests to take the bronze medal. His elder brother Luke was next and he made no mistakes. He won all three of his contests with the best judo he has yet produced in his judo career to take the gold.

Harry Ashen then made it three medals out of three and a second gold for the club, winning his contests with some good judo and thoughtful tactics. James Harrison, the only medalist from the previous day, was on good form again, but he had a tough category and had to settle for his second bronze of the weekend after some very good matches.

Sophie Davis fought well but was again inexperienced, although she did clock up one win, and Cerys Jones struggled with the sheer power of the Dutch girls but bravely battled on and eventually lost the bronze play-off. Maddie Averill also had a good go, clocking up a good win but needing just one more to reach the medals.

That left just the two most experienced Samurai players to go, and the club had evidently saved the best to the end. Olivia Turner stepped onto the mat determined to win and she did just that, reaching the final against a tough and experienced Dutch black belt and completely dominating the final, eventually winning with a groundhold to take the gold.

Last up was Jake Ashen, who had come so close to a bronze medal the previous day and had another tough category. However, three excellent wins out of three saw him into the final against the local Dutch hero. This was an epic contest between two really good judo players, fought in the very best spirit, but Jake always looked to have the edge and as the contest went into golden score his dominance increased. Eventually he did a superb turnover into a groundhold and gained a submission to take a well-earned gold medal, the club’s fourth of the day, the first time in 40 years that they have won four gold medals abroad on the same day, beating the previous record of three golds in Belgium in 2013. It was a tired but very happy team that came back to England.

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