Judo Team Make Club History at BUCS
The University of Birmingham Judo Club reached new heights last weekend, when the Women’s team took home Gold from the BUCS Gatorade Nationals in Sheffield. It was the first the club had reached the top step of the podium in a BUCS event. In addition to three silver and two bronze medals, the victory capped an incredibly successful for the whole team.
The fighting began on Saturday with the individual championships. UBSport scholar Lucas Rowe was up first in high grades Under 60kg category. The defending champion cruised through to the knockout rounds in impressive fashion, finishing top of his pool in the process and after some close calls in the knockouts, the third year SPECS student found himself in another final. Unfortunately, history couldn’t repeat itself and the winner from twelve months ago was forced to settle for silver after a closely fought title bout.
Rebecca Telfer, competing in the over 78kgs high grades, performed impressively to reach the final of her discipline, defeating several nationally ranked players along the way. A tense final clash was decided in the dying moments as a slight loss of focus from the UoB girl gave her opponent the advantage and, with it the gold medal, leaving Becca to claim the silver.
Next up was Fia Barnes in the women’s under 63kg high grades. With it being her last year at BUCS, Fia was desperate to go out on a high and she did just that by claiming the bronze in the consolation fight, after an earlier narrow defeat in the final four.
The low grade boys were next to compete. Gavin Thompson was first up in the 73kgs – an extremely large category of 33. Like Lucas, Gavin claimed top spot in his pool, and advanced to the final with relative ease where only an ippon from a more experienced player prevented him from claiming Gold. But it was nevertheless a fantastic debut and the first year Mathematician will definitely be one to watch in the future.
Guy Walsh fought in the 100kgs and under category and took home the silver after dominating his pool. After flying through the knockout rounds in equally stylish fashion, he was forced to settle for the runner up spot after coming up second best in a tightly contested final.
Assen Babachev (U73kg high grade) and Michael Feldman (100kg) also performed admirably, progressing from their respective groups before being stopped by veteran players in later rounds.
Sunday saw the women’s team, headed by Vice Captain Emily Snell, along with Fia Barnes and Rebecca Telfer, compete with one single aim: To better last year’s bronze medal. As the highest seeded team from 2013, all eyes were on the Brum girls as they negotiated their way through a tough pool. Despite some nail-biting moments, the team successfully won all of their matches – enough to finish top of a group which included Imperial, Warwick and Strathclyde.
A familiar foe lay in wait in the semis in the shape of Glasgow, against whom Birmingham have previously some of their closest contests. After some intense fighting there was nothing to separate the teams with only Telfer left to fight against a much heavier competitor. One perfect performance later and Birmingham had a final to look forward to.
The final saw a re-match against Strathclyde, the side that had given the girls the most trouble during the pool encounters. Defeat in the opening fight left Emily and Rebecca with it all to do and, after Emily managed to triumph in her fight, Telfer completed the turnaround in style by flooring her opponent within ten seconds with an incredible throw to secure that oh so sought-after and richly deserved gold medal.
Coach Fitzroy Davies said, ‘Since I started coaching at the club twelve years ago we have been working towards a team gold at BUCS. The girls result is the icing on top of an excellent year for the club.’ He added, ‘I have high hopes for the team next year, especially if we can get a men’s team together.’
The Judo teams’ final Uni tournament of the year, USIST, will see the club defend their title from twelve months ago. After a fantastic BUCS weekend in Sheffield, there is nothing to suggest they can’t stop all-comers again in the future.
Emily Snell and Tom Dodd