Tonbridge Judo Club coach heaps praise on talented squad
TONBRIDGE Judo Club head coach Chris Bowles hailed his current crop of pupils as examples of the next generation crafted by the Olympic legacy.
Bowles was speaking after returning with his young squad from the most recent national ranking event, the Southern Area Open at the K2 leisure centre in Crawley.
Judoka from Tonbridge racked up four gold medals, a silver and a bronze and star prodigy George Cullum threw all his opponents for ippon on the way to glory.
"We've had a great response after the Olympics," said Bowles. "We've retained almost everyone who came to the club before, new members are up and we have been well supported by Kent Sport Development, so for us it's been a great experience.
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"The guys who went to the Southerns – for me they are the next generation; they are the Olympic legacy. All of them put in fantastic performances."
Gold was the colour for Cullum, 16, at -66kg, Molly Harvey, 13, at -38kg, Jasmine Stringer, 11, at-38kg and Aaron hughes, 17, at -81kg.
Meanwhile 15-year-old Zoe Boulderstone continued her rise with a silver at 70kg and 13-holly year-hughes old got bronze at -46kg.
Harry Try achieved seventh in the -66kg category.
"George is in the national squad and will be going to international events next year. He's right on track for Rio 2016.
"But at the moment the girls squad are doing the business. Before it was just Jemima [Yeats-Brown] but it's not now. Molly Harvey steals a medal every time she goes out and Christina Kelsall has only been doing it 18 months and she's already on the national squad."
Also at the weekend, James Draper won senior gold at -60kg at the british University Championships, while James Sparks came third at -73kg.
For both competitions, as always, Tonbridge Judo Club prepared for combat with a professional focus.
"We hold a training camp leading up to any ranking tournaments and this time was no different," said Bowles.
"We get these guys in the squad early and then we can start developing them. That's what they need to get to that next level and that's what sets us apart from most other clubs.
"It's also our trainers, guys like Peter Marcroft and Colin Eldridge. They are the ones who turn up day in day out. Without them we wouldn't be anywhere near as successful."
Bowles added that there was also a new judo mentality being instilled at the club.
"Most of our kids are winning quite convincingly and we are trying to get kids throwing as much and as early as they can now.
"We are really open with our judo now and it's quite progressive. It can be risky – it's like Man United trying to win 6-0 every time, the Japanese have always gone for that style of judo – so we think long term, that's the way to go."