We entered 8 competitors this year at the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) judo championships held at Sheffield on 21–22nd February. The first day was the 1st Kyu and Dan grades competition for individuals. Andrés entered in the -60kg category and started in a promising pool of four. After two very tough and long fights, he was unfortunately not able to make it through to the knock-out rounds, his last opponent defaulting because of an injury. Both Josh and Rio were in the -66kg category, a very tough one with several nationally ranked players. Despite winning one fight and lasting 1’18” against a bronze world medalist, Josh didn’t make it though his pool. Rio had several successes through the pool and knock-out, until he faced a player from Anglia Ruskin in the round of 8. A second of hesitation on whether the referee was calling matei ruined his hopes for medal. In -73kg, Rob was also competing against high class judoka, and unfortunately lost his two pool fights. Last but not least, Lawrence made a very good start, finishing first in his pool, but lost in the round of 16.
On the women’s side, Suvi was competing in the -52kg category and made it through her pool after winning one of her fights on a waza-ari throw followed by a hold. She unfortunately lost the quarter finals but earned a bronze medal in the process, bringing a ray of sunshine for Cambridge on that tough day! Marine was fighting -63kg and did not make it though her pool after fighting four stronger opponents. Finally, Maddie managed a victory in her pool, but unfortunately not enough to bring her to the knockout phase.
After such a tough day, we decided to have dinner in town and went back to the hotel under the protective eyes of our coaches Nick and Alec, preparing for the next day.
The team competition was held on the Sunday afternoon and we were feeling well rested when we started the competition. Both the men and women were in a large pool of four, giving us plenty of fights to express our determination. The men were starting with the obvious disadvantage of fighting well above their weight categories, being up to 20kg lighter than their opponents! They won 3-2 against Durham university, and 4-1 against Strathclyde, and only conceded three victories to Nottingham, particularly thanks to Rob beating a much heavier opponent and Lawrence demonstrating once again his quick efficiency. The match against Glasgow in the round of 8 was epic. We also very much enjoyed Rio’s quick and strong strangle that left his opponent no chance! Josh had a 5-minute fight against Rudi from Glasgow, in which he demonstrated some strong attacking judo, and ended in a draw. After the referees noted that the teams drew overall, they were selected to refight and Josh brought victory to the team in a minute through a shido. The quarter finals were lost against Bath, who eventually won the whole contest allowing our team to go for a repechage fight against Plymouth. Eager to win, all the team members gave an exceptional effort and provided a whitewash for Cambridge! A very good ending for a well earned bronze medal!
The women’s team consisted of three players, with no weight categories. Our team’s first pool fight was against London University, winning 2-1 thanks to Suvi and Maddie, in a decisive battle. The Glasgow team was very heavy and left us no chance—they went on to finish second overall. The last team was Plymouth which we beat 2-1 again, leading to a draw in number of victories and points with London. As we had won against them, we proceeded to the knock-out phase. The quarter final was against Nottingham, winner of the contest and despite Marine scoring a waza-ari at one point, we could not get through. The repechage, on the other hand, was much more successful, with the team securing a bronze medal by beating Birmingham 2-1.
Two teams for two medals, what a brilliant result with no precedent in our coaches’ memory! We would like to thanks them particularly, as they have not only trained us all year long, but also took the time to come with us for the competition and were great support!
—Marine Dupoiron, Women’s Captain