Part two of the traditional opening weekend of competitions saw a sizeable Cambridge team make the short journey towards Ely for the Littleport Open and a chance to shake off several months of ring-rust.
From left: Josh, Rob, Chris McGee, Mikey, Rachel, Jamie, J.T., Chris Coward, Lee
2nd Kyu Josh Hunt had an early start as he decided to compete in both the under twenty years category as well as the main section. The extra fights didn’t seem to wear him down however as he took gold in both divisions of the -66kg category which saw a combination of quick throws and impressively sharp groundwork, featuring a textbook arm-lock for a submission win.
In her first competition in many months, 1st Kyu Rachel Moore won her first fight with two wazari scores to give her the -63 Gold medal. A long, long delay on mat number one due to a very nasty elbow injury to a fellow competitor meant that Rachel had a long wait until her second fight which she lost after a good contest.
Medal number four came courtesy of speedster Giovanni, who looked calm and collected in dispatching his first opponent before losing an exhausting fight to a competitor sporting a GBR patch on his gi. Silver went to Giovanni who is already looking in ominous form for the bigger competitions next term.
A harder day was experienced by Mikey Barton and Matt Jayne. Mikey was unexpectedly several kilos over his weight and found himself fighting in a far heavier category 1st Kyu/Dan grade competition. No medal then but valuable matt time was gained. Matt Jayne was looking in good opening form, winning his first contest before a shoulder injury in his second cut short what looked like a likely medal challenge.
Fighting in a heavily populated kyu grade competition on matt number one were J.T, Chris McGee and former CUJC president Rob Blackburn, fresh off his gold-medal winning performance the previous day in London. J.T came through a hard group sporting superior fitness (J.T has recently turned in an impressive half marathon time of ninety minutes and change) J.T looked calm on the mat and benefited from many hours of hard training over the summer to find success with instinctive counters and finally left with a silver medal. Rob meanwhile lost his opening contest in the -73kg category but won the next two with ippons to make it out of the pool stage. Fighting in the same category, Chris McGee stalked the edge of the mat with barely concealed malevolent intent. Chris stangled two of his opponents en-route to a meeting with Rob. Chris won that contest with a good drop seonage leaving Rob with the bronze medal. In the final, Chris won yet again to claim the Gold.
In a merged heavyweight Dan/1st Kyu category City Captain Chris Coward, Lee Beamiss and Jamie Sutherland took on the local competition and each other in a round-robin affair. In the pool stages Chris started with a win from a quick counter. Lee also managed a win and before meeting Chris in a team-mate battle. Lee managed to best Chris in a hard fight to make it out of the pool stages and straight into the final. Jamie lost his first fight on penalties before pinning his second opponent to set up a bronze-medal fight with Chris. A focused Chris won that one with a tani-otoshi to land yet another medal for Cambridge. In the final Lee traded minor scores with his opponent and was looking good for the gold before an instinctive leg grad lead to his immediate disqualification and the consolations of silver.
Following the main tournament both Chris and Jamie decided to take part in the competitive grading competition. Fighting in the Dan-grade section, Chris took the first ten points towards his second Dan. Jamie started off with a hard fought but pointless draw against a powerful opponent. Things got better from there with Jamie throwing his next opponent for ippon with a maki-komi before pinning his third opponent. Two ippons in a row set a black-belt line up. Jamie threw his first opponent for ippon with a counter then pulled off another pin for win number four. In his ninth fight of the day Jamie fell short against his earlier drawn-match opponent, narrowly missing out on securing his black belt at the first time of asking, but gaining fifty points in total towards his dan-grade.
All in, this was a very successful outing for Cambridge with valuable mat time earned, a nine medal haul and the promise of success in the more high profile contests next term.
– Jamie Sutherland