Great Britain at the World Judo Champs 2011 Pt 1 – How bad is bad?

After much consideration I have decided to split this post into several shorter posts. It is no secret that I am hugely disappointed with the performance of the British Judo team over the 2011 world championships in Paris. With only 332 days to go until our u60kg player steps on the mat in the London 2012 Olympic games how can we have our worst world championships since 1969? Who is to blame?

Firstly I want to consider how badly we performed this year, was it really worse than previous years? I have made a table to show how bad our performance was (see below) in comparison to previous world championships.

Championships Gold Silver Bronze 5th 7th
2011, Paris 1 1
2010, Tokyo 1 1
2009, Rotterdam 1 1
2007, Rio 1 1 1 3
2005, Cairo 1 2 1
2003, Osaka 2 1 2
2001, Munich 2 1 2 1
1999, Birmingham 1 3 1 2
1997, Paris 1 3 2
1995, Tokyo 1 2 2
1993, Hamilton 1 1 2 2 3
1991, Barcelona 3 2 3
1989, Belgrade 2 2 5 1
1987, Essen 2 1 3 1 4
1986, Maastrict 3 1 Women Only
1985, Seoul 2 1 Men Only
1984, Vienna 1 1 Women Only
1983, Moscow 1 Men Only
1982, Paris 2 1 Women Only
1981, Maastricht 1 Men Only
1980, New York 1 1 3 Women Only
1979, Paris 1 2 7 Men Only
1975, Vienna 2 Men Only
1973, Lausanne 2 Men Only
1971, Ludwigshafen 2 Men Only
1969, Mexico City 1 Men Only
1967, Salt Lake City 1 Men Only
1965, Rio


This table clearly shows that the last time we didn’t medal in a world championships was 1975 but in 1975 we did secure two 5th places. In 2011 we got one 5th and one 7th place, to find a result this bad by British Judo at the world championships you would need to go back to Mexico City, 1969! That’s 42 years ago! So here we are 332 days away from a home Olympic games with our worst performance in 42 years.

Over the next few posts I am going to analyse this performance and where appropriate I will attribute blame, I don’t like pointing the finger and blaming people but enough is enough! In separate posts I will consider the players, the staff, the BJA, UK sport and the culture of judo in Great Britain.

The next post will be on the players, see you then and please add you comments….

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Great Britain at the World Judo Champs 2011 Pt 1 – How bad is bad?

  1. Good research. As an optimist I must add that at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, the year after the Vienna Worlds, GB got a silver and a bronze. But then as an optimist I said in the late sixties that we had a fifty fifty chance of Olympic gold. Sadly 7 silvers proves me wrong.

  2. d

    Maybe it is because there is no wrestling in Britain. Every top level wrestler / judoca cross-trains in both sports. I don’t think judo in the UK had evolved. It is no coincidence in the last world championship most medals were awarded to countries with a long history in wrestling, like Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Greece and Russia. Traditional English catch-as-can wrestling looks dead to me.

    • but the top three nations were Japan, France and China, do they have a tradition of wrestling? Also in the top 10 were Korea, Netherlands and Germany, not sure they have strong wrestling traditions either, not sure though maybe all of them do?

  3. d

    I don’t know if France and China have a tradition in wrestling. But they regularly win medals in the world wrestling championships. I am no expert but it looks like wrestling in Britain all of a sudden died in the 50s.

    Ilias Iliades, current world and european champion has a wrestling background.

    I am not saying this is the only reason. I do believe judo is great in the UK, but a little extra help never hurts.

  4. Pingback: Great Britain at the World Judo Champs 2011 Pt 4 – UK sport… | judobob

  5. This is interesting Bob, Looking forward to the rest of it. It is an exceptionally difficult question to answer – but just to throw something else out there do you think it could have something to do with our dwindling base of players? Or has our base always been small in comparison to other countries?

    • Hi Fergus,

      Thanks for taking the time to read it.

      I lecture on talent development and I am certain that the base of the pyramid has little affect upon the top of the pyramid, in fact the pyramid is a very poor structure in the first place.

      Take our most successful Olympic sports – cycling, rowing and sailing, they don’t have a massive base. Look at other sports with a much bigger base than us, netball, hockey for example. Of course you can then look at judo as an example, Cuba is very successful and they don’t have a huge base, Belgiums most successful year they decided to focus upon only 4 players and travel with them.

      We could compare us to taekwondo who have similar numbers but won medals in Beijing.

      Also, who says our membership is dwindling? BJA stats suggest they are static to my knowledge at around 28,000.

  6. Pingback: Great Britain at the World Judo Champs 2011 Pt 5 – Where now & Transparency | judobob

  7. Ross

    Also, Germany has Ringen/Ringkampfen – it’s a strong descendant of Western knights unarmed combat techniques, which focused on grappling techniques as while plate armour could stop a punch or a kick, it didn’t help you against an arm bar or other joint manipulations.

    Naturally it shares many similarities with ju jitsu and judo as human body mechanics are the same the world over.

  8. I beleive that innovation, developing new skills and building a “British Style” of competition Judo could make up for some of our deficiencies. We tend to copy, which is a recipe for coming second rather than to lead. I am looking forward to the next part

  9. I agree, of course innovation and a British style can only come from good coach education, something we have never really had and still lack. Without it you’re hoping for coaching talent to just land in your lap – Roy Inman and Geoff Gleeson for example. With a system you create strong coaches and therefore have more.

    Interestingly I sometime watch former squad players like Darren Warner, Rob New, and others and they have a style, you can tell when a former squad player steps no the mat

  10. Pingback: World championships 2015 – Team GB | judobob

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