Focus on the Land
Judoka get ‘huge’ wake-up call
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
JOAO Felipe Velloza was Gisborne Judo’s Club’s only gold medal winner at the tough Auckland international open championships.
Velloza won the senior boys’ under-55 kilograms division, Patti Grogan, was second in the senior women’s u57kg class while Jayden Hughes and Meihana Teneti collected bronze in their respective senior boys u50kg and u45kg divisions.
“The competition was a huge wake-up call for all our fighters,” club coach Jason King said.
“We took a team of 11 away and won one gold, one silver and two bronze. The others fought well but it showed we have a lot of work to do before the North Island champs at Wanganui in September, followed by the New South Wales open and the New Zealand nationals.
“We always knew the Auckland champs were going to be tough but there was an amazing increase in numbers this year.
“There were 500 entries, more than 100 up on last year, which is great for the sport.
“As well as the New Zealand clubs, there were 11 teams from Australia, big contingents from New Caledonia and Fiji and a Japanese team.
“In the past it was mainly adult overseas competitors but this year there was a huge number of younger overseas fighters which was great for our club members.
“It’s was a real eye-opener for our competitors and showed them what they need to do if they want to aspire to be the best, and maybe go on to compete at the Commonwealth games.”
King said Grogan and Melissa McMillan had the potential to qualify for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland.
“Between now and the North Islands champs we will be stepping up our training programme for what is shaping up to be a busy and exciting time, particularly for Patti and Melissa,” King said.
“After the North Islands they will compete at the nationals and need to win to gain top rankings ahead of the first world cup event at Samoa, which is a qualifying event for Scotland.
“We’ve had two local judoka fight at the Commonwealth Games — Mellissa Jones (2002) and Tracy Down (1986).
“There’s no reason why Patti and Melissa McMillan can’t make it to Scotland if they work hard enough, and both are determined to make it. We’re already training seven nights a week. They have the ability, I’ve no doubt about that.
“Melissa fights at u63kg and Patti at u57 but Patti’s best chance of qualifying would be to drop to the u52kg class, which we’re working on.”
If 2012 is busy, King said next year would be even busier.
“The girls have to compete in at least two of four competitions in Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales to get qualifying points.
“They don’t need to medal but they need to make at least the quarterfinals. If they do well over there we would then send them to Japan for six weeks of training and fights.
King said the New Zealand Judo Federation was more focused on the Commonwealth Games than the Olympics.
“We’ve never medalled at the Olympics but we’ve won six medals at past Commonwealth Games.”
OVER YOU GO: Gisborne Judo Club’s Melissa McMillan throws clubmate Patti Grogan during a training session. Both are determined to qualify for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Picture by Dave Thomas
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