On March 11th 2012 I competed in the English Junior and Senior Open, which was a national ranking event, which would help select for the Junior European Championships, and for qualification for the 2013 GBR Senior Trials.
I first fought in the junior U60kg category, and won my first fight in 10 seconds by the maximum “ippon” knockout score. My second fight was against a younger national squad player which I also won by ippon in 1 minute. In the semi final I faced a new up and coming rival who had won silver in the European Youth Olympic Festival last year, and was a tough fighter. I felt on form, and managed to throw him for ippon within a minute too. This put me into the final against Josh Hill, a strong rival who I’ve beaten and lost to several times over the last few months. He surprised me and caught me for a 7 point score early in the fight. This would be hard to get back, but I worked hard and eventually caught him back for a 7 point score to even the fight. With the scores even, it went into “golden score” or extra time. I was putting in the majority of the attacks and climbing ontop of the fight, when a lapse of concentration towards the end of the fight allowed him to catch me for the winning score. Silver medal in the junior category was not what I had came for, but I’d scored with a good variety of throws, and was now ranked no.2 in the Great Britain.
Later that day I fought in the senior category. I was tired from fighting the juniors earlier, but felt confident I could win. Due to lower entries, I had a bye into the quarter finals, where I beat a Scottish opponent within 30 seconds. I then fought a national squad player in the semi final who had good defense and was hard to break down. However after patiently timing my attacks I caught him for ippon after 3 minutes and was in the final. Here I faced an old rival Adam Conroy from London. As we’d fought many times, the fight was cagey and we evaded each others attacks. I felt I was putting in the majority of the attacks, but I couldn’t throw him for a score. This got me frustrated, and I then put in a wild attack which he countered for a 5 point score, which won him the fight. This tactical error was my fault entirely and cost me the fight, but it was a big learning experience. I also gained 120 points towards qualification for the GBR senior trials, and am now comfortably within the top 8 qualification spots.
2 silver medals was disappointing, and 2 mistakes potentially cost me 2 golds, but there was areas of improvement I could work on and hopefully correct in time for the Junior European Cup in Portugal I had been selected for next week.