LOIC Keasey and Katy Jennings took the two most prestigious awards at the Samurai Judo Club’s Annual Awards evening, but there were a number of other significant winners as well.

Half of the awards are voted for by club members with the other half being selected by the panel of club coaches.

Loic won the voted Overall Player Of The Year, with his results including gold at the English Open and silver at the Commonwealth Tournament.

Aged just 14, he has previously won the British National Championships and is already a senior brown belt with points towards his black belt.

Of the coaches’ awards, the single one which means most to the long-time club members is the Rod Lane Award, named after one of the club’s most respected coaches and referees who sadly dies of a brain tumour 14 years ago.

It is given to somebody who embodies the true ethos of judo and this year went to 14 year-old Katy Jennings for her outstanding work helping with coaching the young juniors and also the club’s special needs group.

Katy, also 14 years old, wants to be a teacher and several professional teachers amongst the club coaches and management have been amongst those impressed with her patience.

Paul Jones took two major coaches’ awards: he won Best Performance for his gold medal-winning display at the Commonwealth Tournament and Best Throw for his spectacular shoulder throw in the final.

Paul, aged 60, was one of an incredible six members of the club to take medals at the prestige event in September – two golds and four silvers. Jake Ashen, runner-up in the Performance category for his gold medal at the 4 Lions International in Holland, won the Best Contest of the Year for the final of that competition, edging out Paul whose semi-final win against one of Britain’s most respected former international players was runner-up.

Jake also was part of the team who won gold at the Bev Teams and was the club’s Team Of The Year, alongside Luke Phillips and James Harrison.

The partnership of teenage girls Cerys Jones and Sophie Davis won not only the Best Training Partnership but also the Best Kata Award, the latter for their kata which won gold at the British Kata Championships and also a special award at that event.

Sophie also came joint top of the “Most Medals Won” table, tied with Luke Phillips, whilst Olivia Turner won “Most National and International Medals”, “Highest Attendance”, and both the coaches and voted Best Referee awards.

Oliver Royle and Isobel Houghton won the “Best Young Juniors” awards, Alex Collins won “Best Older Junior” with Maya Osborne as runner-up, Max Baker and Anna Baddeley won “Best Second Year Juniors” and Chris Houghton was chosen as “Best Parent Player”. Jack Walker won “Best Groundwork”. Mark Allen won the Volunteer Award, selected by the club committee.

In the voted awards, Jake Ashen won “Best Male Junior Player” and British Nationals finalist Sophie Davis won “Best Female Junior Player”, whilst Mike Chamberlain, who won the club’s other gold at the Commonwealth Tournament, won “Best Senior Male Player” and Olivia Turner won “Best Female Senior Female”. Veteran Rob Starbuck won “Most Improved Player” whilst Chris Houghton won “Best Beginner”, edging ahead of both of his daughters who were runners-up for the same award. Mark Walker was voted “Volunteer Of The Year”, Rachel Palfreyman as “Best Table Official” and Mateo Allen as “Best Junior Official”, just ahead of Alannah Martin.

The Samurai club itself celebrated its 40th anniversary in the summer of 2019, with a memorable get-together that included many great players from the past.

Report submitted by Samurai Judo Club