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Record medal haul for Judo team

Lucas Rowe

The University of Birmingham (UBSport) Judo Team brought home a remarkable collection of medals following the British Universities and College Sports (BUCS) Gatorade National Championships in Sheffield on the February 25 and 26. The haul of medals - including two gold’s, two silvers and two bronze medals - resulted in a record breaking total for the team.

Sports scholar, Lucas Rowe (2nd year, Sports and Exercise Science) sailed through to the finals of the 60kg men’s high grade group, despite the highly competitive category. Lucas lived up to his teammate’s expectations, playing a convincing and tactical game in the final, confidently pinning his opponent to secure a gold medal.

The celebrations continued as Assen Babachev (1st year, Psychology) secured the second gold medal of the day for the team in his Low Grade Under-73 Men’s Category. The competitor proved an increasingly dominant force, particularly in the knockout stages of his competition, landing many opponents on their back to secure outright wins.

The club had high hopes of vice-captain, Annie Smith, having won a Silver Medal in the previous year’s championships. Annie looked set to exceed last year’s medal position as she scored an ippon early on in the under 70kg Women’s Low Grade semi-final versus Cambridge University. Despite her hard work and determination, Annie struggled to fight off the tough Manchester University opposition in the final, stripping her of a gold medal position.

Sean Barber (1st year, Geography) also looked in reaching distance of a gold medal position, winning both his fights in the pool stages and subsequently throwing his opponent in the semi-final to proceed to the final. Despite showing promise in the final and maintaining a tough battle, the Birmingham star failed to beat the Portsmouth opposition, finishing in an impressive second position.

Phil Willoughby (1st year, Biomedical Science) starred in his third senior Judo competition, the under 90kg Low Grade Men’s Category. The player exceeded expectations, earning a bronze medal in his category after being beaten by the subsequent Gold medallist of the competition in the semi-final.

The Women’s team, made up of Fia Barnes, Annie Smith and Emily Snell, completed the medal haul for the weekend despite being placed in a tough pool. The Birmingham team stepped up to the challenge, earning a bronze medal after battling it out against overall winners, Northumbria University.

With four other team members reaching the knockout stages, and an increasingly consistent performance from the club, this competition highlights the Birmingham teams ever increasing strengths as they continue to dominate the field.

‘The team’s performance this year has been a major improvement, with only two silver individual medals won the previous year. This has to be attributed to the hard work the players continue to put into training and our coach, Fitz, putting more emphasis on Randori (fighting practice) during training sessions’ said captain, Fia Barnes.

‘We know where we are now and we know what we need to work on. We do this, and next year we will be bringing even more medals home’, commented Fitzroy Davies, who has even higher hopes for next year.

Photo: Lucas Rowe at a previous competition