Imperial’s team of elite and not so elite judokas trekked to the edge of civilisation last Saturday, to the point where electricity is limited to 4 hours a day and counting to six on one hand gets easy. It was time for the London Open Championships in Uxbridge and the second biggest competition on the judo calendar.
Despite the 5:00 am start, Imperial was in high spirits after collecting 9 medals this time last year, a feat that everyone was hoping to better now that our ranks included a high number of beginners who had come through our dedicated beginners’ course and were entering the category specifically for those who have started judo this year. We practically ran towards the dreaded weighing scales to be informed if 3 weeks of dieting and the self-torture of abstinence from drinking had paid off. All made it and could finally eat some breakfast apart from one fresher who was so confused about not making his weight category...until he remembered the Pizza Hut All-You-Can Eat eating competition he’d had the night before. Gabriel, shame on you.
Fresher’s and advanced players alike, Imperial put on an impressive display of foot sweeps, shoulder throws, drop throws and strangles to beat their way to 6 finals and 8 semi-finals. Spectacular fights included several Imperial friendly fire situations, notably Thanos who beat 3 other Imperial players to claim a bronze medal and Thore Bucking who beat not only everyone in his own weight category but everyone in the category above! One of our black belts was even awarded “Fastest Throw of the Day” winning a fight in just 5 seconds!
Going into the final fight of the competition was Imperial Dan grade (black belt) Jusso, Imperial and Brunel University were neck and neck for overall points scored, if Jusso won his last fight not only would he win the team’s 4th gold medal but Imperial would win the competition overall. 2 minutes of nail-biting judo and Imperial lay the smack down with a flawless throw that saw his opponent’s feet flying higher than his head before crashing into the mat. Imperial win the fight and the championship.