Cheer­ing a golden tre­ble

Aldershot News & Mail - - FRONT PAGE -

PROUD coach Luke Pre­ston be­lieves Cam­ber­ley Judo Club have been handed a spring­board for suc­cess on the world stage af­ter land­ing a unique golden tre­ble at the Com­mon­wealth Games in Glas­gow.

Pro­vid­ing three of the seven male Eng­land rep­re­sen­ta­tives, the Cam­ber­ley club cel­e­brated a hat-trick of gold medals in the space of 24 glo­ri­ous hours with Ash­ley McKen­zie, Danny Wil­liams and Owen Livesey all win­ning their re­spec­tive classes.

The Cam­ber­ley club reaf­firmed its po­si­tion at the very top of world judo af­ter Team GB vet­eran Ka­rina Bryant ended her glit­ter­ing ca­reer with a bronze medal at the Lon­don Olympics in 2012.

Now, af­ter ar­guably the most pres­ti­gious weeks in the club’s his­tory, Pre­ston – who dou­bles up as club and na­tional coach – reck­ons, with added back­ing, the Cam­ber­ley club can push on and pro­duce more cham­pi­ons at Rio 2016.

“I am ex­tremely proud of the three ath­letes and the Eng­land judo team in gen­eral,” Pre­ston said. “For Cam­ber­ley to be home to three Com­mon­wealth Games gold medal­lists is a fan­tas­tic achieve­ment. It is great for the club, the whole town and bor­ough. We now need con­tin­ued sup­port to help qual­ify our ath­letes for Rio 2016.

“At the mo­ment we only have one funded ath­lete at the club so spon­sor­ships is vi­tal if we want con­tin­ued Com­mon­wealth, Euro­pean, World and Olympic suc­cess.”

Ex­pec­ta­tions were high for the CJC fight­ers from day one. Ranked 17th in the world, McKen­zie, the 2013 Euro­pean bronze medal­list, was favourite to win the ti­tle in the -60kg class and he did not dis­ap­point.

Vic­to­ries over ex­pe­ri­enced Scot John Buchanan – the for­mer World bronze medal­list who trained at Cam­ber­ley for 13 years – and Neuso Si­gauque, of Mozam­bique, earned him a fi­nal against Navjot Chana of In­dia.

Chana, a four-time na­tional cham­pion, took the lead with a seven-point throw but McKen­zie quickly fought back with a seven-point throw of his own and the three penalty points picked up by his op­po­nent sep­a­rated the pair at the end in the English­man’s favour.

“I’m pleased to be here and would like to thank the peo­ple who have got me here,” McKen­zie said. “My coach Luke Pre­ston and all the spon­sors at Cam­ber­ley, we couldn’t do what we do with­out their sup­port.”

Wil­liams was called up to the Eng­land team just days be­fore the Games due to an in­jury re­sult­ing in with­drawal of ex-Cam­ber­ley club mate Ben Fletcher.

Wil­liams faced a tough first con­test in the -73kg cat­e­gory against Welsh­man Con­nor Ire­land but over­came him by two small scores be­fore com­ing from a score be­hind to beat three-time Ocea­nia cham­pion Arnie Dick­ens.

Fur­ther vic­to­ries over North­ern Ire­land’s Eoin Flem­ing and Aus­tralian cham­pion Jake Ben­sted saw him face Kiwi Adrian Leat in a bru­tal fi­nal con­test which was even­tu­ally won through an early seven-point score.

“That was in­cred­i­ble,” Wil­liams added. “The ma­jor­ity of the peo­ple here have been pre­par­ing for months and I had six days to pre­pare but I could have done it in a day if I had to. I’m look­ing for­ward to get­ting back to Cam­ber­ley to share my ex­pe­ri­ence with every­one that has been sup­port­ing me.”

Also on day two, Livesey started his -81kg cam­paign with vic­tory over John Muthee Kir­imi, of Kenya, be­fore then over­com­ing Zam­bian Boas Mun­y­onga by the same method to earn a place in the semi-fi­nal.

Another max­i­mum score in the open­ing 30 sec­onds was enough to dis­pose of Cana­dian Jonah Burt and earn a closely-fought all-English fi­nal against Tom Reed, even­tu­ally won by a sin­gle penalty.

Livesey added: “When I moved to Cam­ber­ley the Olympics was the only thing I have wanted to do. Hope­fully, now I have the con­fi­dence, I will do it. I’ve never fought any­where with at­mos­phere like this. Now I have wit­nessed it with the crowd be­hind me it is just fan­tas­tic.

“I’d like to thank every­one who has sup­ported me at Cam­ber­ley, with no fund­ing I rely on spon­sors at the club to help me, With­out them I wouldn’t even have made it in to the team, now I’m stood here with a gold medal.”

Cam­ber­ley and Team Eng­land coach Luke Pre­ston, sec­ond left, with gold medal trio Ash­ley McKen­zie, left, Danny Wil­liams and Owen Livesey

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