Following the cancelation of our direct flights to Holland, we were re-routed into five separate groups and made our way via London and Paris before landing in Holland 12 hours later than planned where our coach was waiting to take us to Pingjum, Friesland where our accommodation was an Authentic Frisian Stelp farm.
The Open Drenthe Judo Championship was the first event in Emmen, which attracted 750 judoka fighting across a 10 mat arena. With 11 Nations represented from almost 100 judo clubs, the standard of judo was exceptional with both the Belgian and Dutch National teams competing together with many other elite level and European Cup judoka.
Our competitors all fought incredibly well, most of which were competing in their first overseas event.
Kieran Tweedy was disqualified from his first contest following our delayed coach arrival, however fought through the repêchage and was defeated in the bronze final to finish 5th.
Josh Stoneman U18 -60kg won his way to the final 16 before being defeated, Jenni France u15 -40kg and Joe Carroll U15 046kg each fought well against strong opponents.
Josh McKeown won his first fight in what was the largest group of the day with 48 Judoka competing for medals in the U18 -66kg event, Josh fought well in his following contests but did not progress further.
Luke Anderson had two strong fights against 1st Dans in the U18 -73kg event. Kiera Pentolfe u12 -36kg fought well to win some of her contests in her group, although she was the youngest and lightest in the field she gave a good account of herself.
Ellie Hutton won two hard fights before being narrowly defeated to finish 7th in the U15 -57kg group.
The team competed very well and gained a great deal of experience from the first days event, then headed back to our base in Friesland.
Day two started at 6:30am as we set off to the Sport Complex Hoornse Vaart in Alkmaar. This event attracted just over 600 judoka from 10 European nations and fought across another impressive eight mat arena.
Josh Stoneman was unlucky to be matched against the top seeds in the U18 -60kg group and went out with his head held high.
Jenni France u15 -36kg won some great contests to reach the bronze final and was defeated on a penalty to finish in 5th place.
Joseph Carroll U15 046kg was defeated by a very strong 1st Kyu in his first contest, then after being a score up in his second fight was unlucky to lose.
Josh McKeown went to golden score in his first contest then won his second before being knocked out of another large group of U18 -66kg players.
Luke Anderson gave another great account of himself in the U18 -73kg event against far more experience judoka.
Kiera Pentolfe u12 -36kg won two and lost two in the u12 -36kg group and was unlucky not to progress into the medals.
Kieran Tweedy had four very tough fights in the U21 +81kg event and was very unluck to lose a couple of contests through referee penalties and miss out on a medal.
Charlotte Kendall u18 – 70kg had an excellent competition, she was the youngest in her group and this was her first competition after recovering from an operation. She won her first batch of contests against strong opposition to reach the quarter finals, but was defeated and again in the repêchage to finish in 5th place.
Ellie Hutton had a battle in the U15 -52kg category, winning two from three contests to reach the final 8, her next fight was against a very strong Dutch opponent which went to golden score, where Ellie won with an Ippon after almost 5 minutes of contest time. This put Ellie into the bronze final where she was defeated by her Swedish opponent on a penalty and was very unfortunate not to medal, finishing in 5th place.
We left the venue after 5pm to head back to our temporary home for some well-earned R & R before travelling back to the UK the following day.
We were accompanied on the trip by Butokokan Judo club who had five competitors at the two events, with a special mention to Molly Common who gained a Bronze medal at both events.
Our players gained some invaluable experience competing at two top class competitions against probably the best Judoka in Europe. All Judoka and parents had a fantastic event and came home with great memories of the Netherlands.
A special mention to Geert Ottens for assisting us at the Emmen event following our delayed arrival, and a huge thanks to Walter Snijders at Alkmaar who made sure we were looked after at both events.
Finally a huge thanks to the coaches Mala Young & Simon Mckenzie from Battlehill, Andrew Douglass & Rachael Douglass from Butokokan and all of the parents who supported all of the members from both clubs during our memorable adventure.