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Report from Special Olympics National Games, Leicester, 24th July to 1st August 2009

The Scottish SN Judo Group had a number of players participating in this event representing two Special Olympic areas: SO Lothian and SO Scotland West.

The opening ceremony in the Walkers Stadium on Saturday 25th July was a spectacular event and the players were all excited and extremely proud to march into the stadium to a huge welcoming roar from the 25,000 spectators, families, and friends. This was the first Olympics for most of our judoka.

First up was Alexander Ferrier (Pro Judo Club). Despite being very nervous Alex displayed some great determination and technique to take him to the final where he was delighted to finish with a silver medal.

Anthony Rogan (SJC Alba) was next to compete. Tony was the lowest graded player in what was a strong category. Despite this he rose to the occasion and competed well finishing with a well-deserved silver medal.

Cameron Black (Pro Judo Club) was particularly impressive and on form for his contests. There was no doubt that Cameron wanted to be Special Olympic Champion and he maintained his focus throughout the day and all the way to the final where he secured the gold medal.

Scotland has only one SN player who has achieved the coveted 1st Dan (black belt) and that is Richard Cooke (Edinburgh JC). Richard has made great improvements in recent years and richly deserves to be the first Scottish SN player and one of the first British SN players to attain their black belt. Richard competed in two categories and was simply outstanding winning all his preliminary contests by Ippon (knockout score). In what can only be described as the match of the tournament Richard contested the final with total determination to win, and win he did to collect the gold medal and become Special Olympic Champion.

Andrew Smith (Sen-i & SJC Alba) our heavyweight player is our most experienced Olympian. Andrew was determined to retain his Special Olympic title from the Glasgow Games in 2005. His first contest was with the biggest player in the competition Craig Edwards from Wales. These two players regularly meet on the competition circuit and it is usually a close, nail-biting contest. Andrew started well and dominated Craig throwing him with Koshi Guruma (hip throw) for a Waza-ari (near knockout), and then held him down to gain the maximum Ippon victory (knockout). After this victory, there was no stopping Andrew and he went all the way to win gold and remain Special Olympic Champion.

Christopher Scott (SJC Alba) competed in two weight categories and returned home with two individual medals. Chris has been training hard and his technique and balance are becoming stronger. It is always a joy to watch him compete so the extra category was a bonus. Within his own weight group Christopher won a silver medal (an improvement on his Olympic bronze medal in 2005) and in the weight above he won a bronze medal.

Leah McInnes (Milton JC) and Nicola Tuxworth (West Calder JC) both competed in the Level 2 U63kg category. Leah and Nicola regularly train together and often find themselves in the same category. In a close fought final, Leah came close to scoring on a couple of occasions but it was Nicola, in the closing seconds, who scored with a counter attack to win the gold medal leaving Leah in the silver medal position.

Overall the players had a great Special Olympic experience and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The coaches were understandably very proud of the players: their sportsmanship, their effort and determination, and of course of their achievements. Congratulations to everyone on a job well done!

 
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