My first post on the World Judo Championships in Paris described pretty clearly how our results at this years world championships were below par in terms of comparison to previous results from GB judo. It should also be pointed out that the goals set by UK sport were a minimum of one medal and a maximum of three medals and considering this is what we have consistently achieved in the past I do not think they were asking for too much, especially considering their £7.5m investment of tax payers money/lottery money for this Olympic cycle. But if UK sport are going to improve British judo they need to target their efforts in the correct place, make the correct changes etc so over the next few posts I will consider this from different perspectives.
A good place to start the analysis of our performance is the players. So lets look at the team that was taken and their past achievements according to a brief look at judo inside.
– 60 Ashley McKenzie (u23 European champions 2010, World cup gold, 2011 (Warsaw) and some European cup golds 2010/11)
-60 James Millar (7 world cup medals, most recent 2011)
-66 Colin Oates (Bronze European Champs 2011, 3 world cup medals)
-66 Craig Fallon (European Champion 2006, World Champion 2005, World silver 2003, 8 world cup medals)
-73 Danny Williams (European cup gold, 2011)
-81 Euan Burton (World Bronze 2010, World Bronze 2007, 3 x European Bronze, 6 world cup medals)
-90 Winston Gordon (5th Athens Olympics, Bronze Europeans 2006, 11 world cup medals)
-100 Jame Austin (3 European cup silvers in 2010/11)
-52 Sophie Cox (2 European Silvers & 2 European Bronze, 10 world cup medals)
-57 Gemma Howell (1 world cup bronze, 3 European cup golds in 2010, 2 u23 European Championships Bronze)
-63 Faith Pitman (2 world cup medals, 7th in world championships 2007)
-63 Sarah Clarke (15 world cup medals, European Gold, silver and bronze)
-70 Sally Conway (3 world cup medals, 5th in World Championships 2009, 2 European cup golds in 2011)
+78 Karina Bryant (7 times world medallist, 4 x European champion, 16 world cup medals)
+78 Sarah Adlington (7 world cup medals, 2 European cup medals in 2011)
Just to summarise, this team had a world champion and 10 other world championship medals, 5 European championship golds & 12 other European medals as well as around 90 world cup medals. I haven’t compared this to other teams but to me it seems like the players are, or at least were capable of medalling at a world level.
Maybe now we should look at how the team did in this years world championships.
– 60 Ashley McKenzie – two wins
-60 James Millar – two wins
-66 Colin Oates – four wins
-66 Craig Fallon – no wins
-73 Danny Williams – one win
-81 Euan Burton – one win
-90 Winston Gordon – one win
-100 James Austin – no wins
-52 Sophie Cox – one win
-57 Gemma Howell – two wins
-63 Faith Pitman – one win
-63 Sarah Clarke – one win
-70 Sally Conway – no wins
+78 Karina Bryant – two wins
+78 Sarah Adlington – no wins
This gives us 15 players with 18 wins, or an average of 1.2 wins per player. Not only that but we should consider the countries we got some of our wins against. Colin Oates had a tough draw in places (FRA & BRA) but in many respects had an easy draw beating MDA, and GHA (the GHA boy trains in the UK and only 2-3 times per week). Sarah Clark’s win was against SEN, one of Ashley’s wins was against MLT, Winston’s win was against PAN and Sophie’s win was against MAC. Please beware I am not slatting the players for this, all I am saying is that we should be beating countries like SEN, MLT, PAN, GHA and MAC with the judo history and funding of Great Britain.
Some players had some fantastic wins, Colin Oates beat former European silver medalist Zagrodnik from POL in his first fight, he also beat Larose of France in his fifth fight. Karina Bryant beat Sadkowska of POL in her second fight. For me the British player of the week was Gemma Howell, she beat the former world champion, Ribout on home ground, she then beat world bronze medallist Karakas of Hungary in her second fight before she was beaten in fight three by the infamous Isabella Fernandez of ESP in a tactical fight and lets be honest, she can play tactics with the best!
I think it is fair to say we have a fairly old team and although many of them have world and European medals some of them haven’t medalled at this level for a while. But I also think if you took Euan, Sarah C, Karina, Craig, Winston you could/should expect one or two medals. I also think Gemma, Sally, Sophie, Ashley, Sarah A, Faith could have been expected to finish 5th or 7th and Danny, James A, James M should have expected to be around 9th.
Is this a fair expectation looking at the medals they have already achieved? I would be interested to hear if I am expecting too much, please comment.
If this is what could be expected then even performing below expectation should have brought home a medal (maybe two) and 3-4 5th/7th places but we didn’t.
I don’t think we should make excuses, I have read that two players in each weight group causes issues (Nicola Fairbrother) and even our own performance director has said this “We have to look positively because the Olympic tournament will be half the numbers, with only one fighter from each country, if they qualify, which will make it a much more level playing field.” (Hick’s, August 2011). I would ask this, does a confident country pray for half the numbers? Shouldn’t we be confident with our judo team and the budget we have? Also, lets be honest, every country has the same problem! They all have to compete against two French, two Japanese etc and they don’t have the budget we do, many probably can’t afford to send two players in each weight group, which brings me on to the next topic….
Why did we not send a full team? No 48kg player, no +100 player, no -78 player. We also only sent one player in many of the weight groups, what about Sophie Johnson or Siobhan O’Neil at u52kg? Why not another -73kg player – Jan Gosiewski, Owen Liversy, Lee Shinkin? At u81kg they could have sent Tom Reed, David Groom, I could go on but this post is getting long!
I know some of the excuses that will coming back, Tom, Jan and Megan were at the university world championships just before is one, well okay maybe that is fair enough but I am sure a program could have been put in place. The other excuse is money, well firstly Paris is very close, secondly if you don’t have enough money in your £7.5m budget to send a full team to the world championships then maybe we need to consider someone else managing the budget?
Last thing on this, three players were brought out at the end of the competition for the teams Siobhan O’Neil, Matt Clempner and Matt Purssey – none of their weight groups had two players in from GB so why not fight them?
For me the players aren’t to blame, sure they could have done better but I don’t believe any of them stepped on the mat thinking “I don’t want to win” or “I’d rather be on COD” and I certainly don’t think they had been out the night before or anything like that. I think they didn’t win for other reasons. In the next post I shall continue this blog topic considering the high performance directorate in British judo and the system within the UK.
Please comment, sorry the post got so long :p