Kendal Judo Club’s Isaac Hill continued his 2014 judo competition successes into 2015 with a double silver medal haul in the first major international of the year – The Scottish Open in Edinburgh. Eighteen year old Isaac fought in both the Under 21year category as well as the Senior event which gave him a full day of contests.
Fighting in the Under 60 kilo weight category Isaac’s first contest of the day in the Junior Age Band was against Jack Langton from Gateshead who he pinned on his back for the required 20 second to end the fight. Although in his contest against Paul Schwisow from Germany Isaac didn’t manage to throw his opponent for the full point he did dominate the contest and a small score from a counter put him into the final against the British Junior Champion, Neil MacDonald from Scotland and was caught with what even Isaac described as the throw of the tournament. However the silver medal was a good start to the year.
Better was to come. Isaac had no sooner finished the Junior Final than he was called to the mat for his first senior contest against David Ferguson from Glasgow. A straight armlock within two minutes put Isaac into the next round. He then came up against Isaac Gagin from Luterworth who he had last met in the British Championships just over a month previously. The player was behind by a small penalty until 4 minutes 59 seconds of the five minute contest when a foot sweep gained him a big enough score to put him into the final to face Neil MacDonald again.
This was a much closer contest than the previous one. Scoreless at the five-minute mark the fight went into Golden Score – the first player to gain any points would win. Sadly Isaac was given a small penalty for going out of the area and had to settle for his second silver medal of the day.
The last time former World Champion Kayla Harrison from Middletown, Ohio, USA stepped on the judo mat that covers the floor of The Kendal Dojo was August 2nd 2012 when she became the first American to win a Judo Gold Olympic Medal. Stepping back on to the mat at Kendal Judo Club’s 28th Annual Winter Training Camp Kayla said “It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and gave me goose bumps all over.” What made the visit even more special was that her opponent in the London ExCel Centre that day, Gemma Gibbons, was among the 80 plus international judo players at the training session as well.
The Club has been running The Winter Training Camp since 1987 and has attracted top players, including World, Olympic, Commonwealth, European and British champions throughout that time. This year’s event, which ran from December 27th to December 30th, was no exception with players from America, Sweden, South Africa, Australia, and Scotland as well as England and Wales taking part in what is considered one of the hardest camps of the year. This is like Chelsea first team turning up at Kendal Town’s football ground for a week’s training.
Indeed that is the attraction. Kayla Cameron from South Africa saw it as learning the hard way what she has to do to win the top medals. Evelina Svenningsson from Halmstadt, Sweden is a regular visitor staying for few weeks at a time prior to competitions. Kayla Harrison was in England with her boyfriend when she heard of the Kendal Camp and immediately decided to come from Camberley, where she had been staying, in order to keep up her training programme for the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. She said the reputation for the hard training at the camp was just what she needed.
Gemma Gibbons is also in full training having just recovered from an injury and enjoyed practising with her Olympic adversary. They have met three times in competition. Once as juniors where Gemma claimed the victory and the two times as seniors that Kayla has won, although both agreed the last meeting was spoiled by a poor refereeing decision. Both women are looking forward to Rio where both are hoping to claim the Gold.