Showgo Kimura (white belt, bronze medallist) throwing his opponent.Caitlin Sargeant

On the weekend of February 14th-16th, Cambridge University Judo Club (CUJC) confirmed their position as one of the best judo clubs in the country at the national BUCS championship in Sheffield. They achieved their best medal haul in years and every fighter won at least one fight in their category. Varsity catches up with CUJC Secretary and acting Women's Captain, Caitlin Sargeant, to get the lowdown.

How was the weekend structured?

The weekend was divided into two parts: on Saturday 15th February the individual competitions were held, and Sunday 16th February saw the team competitions take place. CUJC entered two women and eleven men into the individual competition, and fielded a men’s team for the team competition.

And who was involved?

Myself (F, -57kg, Kyu Grade) and Lotte Wood (F, -70kg, Kyu Grade) carried the baton for Cambridge in the women’s individual competitions, while in the men’s event Cambridge was represented by Reda Arab (M, -60kg, Dan grade), Peter Hampshire (M, -66kg, Dan grade), Showgo Kimura (M, -66kg, Dan grade), Stelios Sarantellis (M, -81kg, Dan grade), Jürgen Sauer (M, -81kg, Dan grade), Tom Dendooven (M, -100kg, Dan grade), Azamat Kumykov (M, -73kg, Kyu grade), Win Suthapradit (M, -73kg, Kyu Grade), David Benjamin Grys (M, -81kg, Kyu grade), Jake Zipfel (M, -81kg, Kyu grade) and Dan Toy (M, -90kg, Kyu Grade).

Meanwhile, Cambridge’s men’s team consisted of Peter Hampshire (M, -66kg, Dan grade), Showgo Kimura (M, -66kg, Dan grade), Stelios Sarantellis (M, -81kg, Dan grade), Jürgen Sauer (M, -81kg, Dan grade) and Tom Dendooven (M, -100kg, Dan grade)

Was there much success for the Light Blues in the individual competition?

Saturday produced some incredible performances, with CUJC winning six medals!

In his first competition for CUJC, Reda Arab performed fantastically in the M -60kg Dan grade category, collecting a silver medal. A small mistake in the final cost him the gold.

A second lightweight medal came from Showgo Kimura, who fought brilliantly in a large M -66kg Dan grade category, coming back from a third-round loss, against the eventual gold medallist, to convincingly win all three of his repechage fights and securing the bronze medal.

Tom Dendooven fought in a strong M -100kg Dan grade category (at a light 90.9kg!). He advanced to the semi-final, where he lost to the gold medalist, but fought a strong repechage fight to secure another bronze medal for the club.

Azamat Kumykov (M -73kg Kyu grade) didn’t make the under 66 kg category, weighing in at 66.2kg, a meagre 200g over the weight limit. However, showing true Cambridge Judo spirit, he proved this was no problem by securing a bronze medal against much heavier opponents in the largest kyu grade weight category of the day.

I competed in a group of 10 competitors in the F -57kg Kyu grade competition, winning all three of my fights in a combined total of 37 seconds to secure a gold medal for the University.

A similarly strong performance from Lotte Wood secured a silver medal in the F -70kg Kyu category, proving the growing strength in the women’s squad.

The team competition also sounds great – how did that work?

In the team event, 5 players per team fight individually in their weight category against an opponent from the other team. If a player wins their individual fight, their team gets a point, if they lose, the other team gets the point.

And how did it go for Cambridge?

Cambridge teamed up in a pool with rivals Oxford and Imperial College for the preliminary rounds. The first match against Oxford saw a win for the Light Blues: Tom won a hard fight with a 3rd Dan opponent, and Stelios won comprehensively in 7 seconds, putting us through with a 4-1 win.

Imperial were next, and after five dominant fights (5-0), Cambridge won their pool of 3, advancing to the quarter-finals against University College London (UCL). The CUJC men were determined to advance to the semi-finals and UCL would not stop them. Another 4-1 win with Peter, Stelios and Jürgen winning their fights in a combined time of 46 seconds saw the CUJC men’s team proceed to the semi-final.

The semi-final was against an extremely strong Bath squad. Both Bath and Wolverhampton universities house permanent dojos with world-class programmes and lots of international fighters who are often IJF ranked (World judo ranking), so this was going to be a tough battle. It ended up being the only loss in the team competition (1-4) but was a display of some of the best judo of the event.

Of special note was Showgo’s epic contest against an opponent nearly 20kg heavier than him and a -81kg medallist, which lasted an exhausting 5 minutes and 44 seconds.

This put them in for a bronze medal fight against Loughborough, which was dominated by a motivated Cambridge team securing the win (5-0). And so, for the second year in a row, the Cambridge men’s team won the bronze medal at the BUCS nationals for teams.

So, how does this measure up against previous years, and what are your plans going forward?

With just under 50% of the competitors winning individual medals (1 gold medal, 2 silver medals and 3 bronze medals) and coming second only to judo centres of excellence (universities of Bath and Wolverhampton) in the team competition at BUCS 2020, CUJC are looking forward to BUCS 2021, where we will hopefully improve again! A major aim is to grow the squad further, and to enter a women’s team into the team event.


Mountain View

BUCS Nationals Review - CUTKD

A special thanks goes out to the CUJC coaches: our performance wouldn’t have been possible without the excellent mat-side coaching from our 4 coaches who have put in so much time and effort to train us to these successes.

Full results are available here.