THE British Masters and Minors Championships in London was very much a generation game for Samurai Judo Club.

The British Masters, held on the Saturday, was for veteran players over 30 years of age. Gary Knight won the event in 2017 and 2018 and recently took silver at the Commonwealth Tournament, so he was hoping to be the first Samurai ever to take gold three years running at this event.

He started well, throwing an Isle of Mann player for maximum points, then followed this up with another maximum point throw against a London player and another against a Leicester player, to put himself into the final and a rematch with the Nottingham player who had beaten him in the Commonwealth final.

This time Knight was much better prepared tactically and dominated the contest, coming close to scoring several times and rarely allowing his opponent to attack. However, he couldn’t quite get the breakthrough score and began to tire against his opponent’s greater strength and fitness, and eventually succumbed to a groundhold and had to settle for silver.

Craig Bowater was next up. The 53-year-old swept into his final with some excellent judo, including a neat throw against a Bradford player in the semi-final. Unfortunately, he made a mistake early in the final against a very experienced player from Sussex and had to settle for silver.

Last up on Saturday was Ian Leroux. Ian joined the Samurai club way back in 1982 and, like his brother Tony, remains a member to this day, although now living in Milton Keynes. Ian started well and survived a scare against a London player to reach the final against a 5th level black belt from Birmingham, but he got back on track and totally dominated the final to take the gold.

On Sunday it was the turn of the minors - players aged 10 and 11 years. Isaac Sobolowski was competing at this level for the first time but fought well, beating the eventual gold medalist before losing out in the semi-finals, but then came back well to claim the bronze.

Ian’s son Jamie was also competing at the event for the first time. Three good wins against players from Huddersfield, Gloucester and Scunthorpe put him into the final, where he was unlucky to lose to a player from Middlesborough and had to settle for silver.

Another long-time Samurai member is Nigel Bigger, who joined around the same time as Ian and now lives in Lancashire but again still retains his ties to the old club. His son Ollie was competing and three good wins took him into the semi-final, where he lost to the eventual gold medalist, but came back to win the bronze against an Essex player.

Meanwhile, Luke and Jordan Phillips were competing in a competition in Birmingham, where Luke took the gold in his category and Jordan the silver in his.

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