Judo club meet Olympian Denise and celebrate medal success!

The coaches with Denise.
The coaches with Denise.

A Dunstable Judo club enjoyed a weekend of success when they met Olympic champion Denise Lewis OBE.

St Katherine’s Judo Kwai, of Katherine Drive, took part in the Chalfont Championships held in Iver on March 18.

The club took 14 children along, winning two gold medals, four silver medals, and eight bronze medals, and to top off an excellent day, the club were surprised by special guest, Denise, who won gold in the heptathlon at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Chris Yates, coach, said: “We had no idea that she was going to be there and we shared a very exciting video on our Facebook page of Denise presenting medals to our club members. She even retweeted us! It was a beginners competition and some of the children we took have never competed before - we’re very proud. ”

St Katherine’s Judo Kwai are a friendly, not-for-proft club, founded in 1986.

Classes begin with a group welcome and the children bowing, followed by a warm-up led by a different child each week to build confidence.

They then practice break falls to enable them to land safely when fighting, and also learn new techniques, taking part in drills, and fitness work.

Steve Garrett, coach, said: “The biggest lesson in a competition is dealing with the difference in dynamics to a practice environment. You are dealing with a potentially confrontational situation but in a controlled way. You’ve got to take care of your partner - it’s all about respect!”

The cheerful club teach children discipline “without being dictatorial”, the children always smiling.

Games are enjoyed such as Randori, meaning ‘free practice’, where there are no winners, the children taking it in turns to form a queue and spar with different partners, as well as bulldog, played crawling on the floor, where catchers use ‘judo turnovers’ to get the ‘runners’ on their back and hold them down for ten seconds.

Steve said: “The best thing is seeing the children grow and mature. We’re like a big family at the club.”

Ines Filipezuk, mother of Emily, six, who won a gold medal at the competition, added: “Emily entered the competition for fun - she was just doing it! The children are very supportive of each other which is beautiful to see.

“All the parents went along and there was an amazing atmosphere. We’re very proud!”

The group practice in St Katherine’s Church hall every Thursday: 7pm 6-9yr olds, 8pm 10-15 yr olds, and 9pm aged 16 plus.

Visit their Twitter page: @judostk.