These are exciting times for the Nelson Judo Club.
The club, which had just a handful of members three years ago, has rejuvenated itself and now has six national titles and three national bronze medals to show for it.
The club now has more than 70 members, including a strong junior base, which is exciting considering the club is hoping to move to bigger, more modern facilities by Victory Boxing at the end of the year
Paul Hammett, in the masters men’s open and Joshua Nahi in the senior men under 100kg, both won gold, while Louise Kelly, senior and junior women’s under 70kg and Raphael Ravenau, in the senior men under 66kg and masters men under-73kg each won two gold medals respectively.
Jesse Wall, Zak Hammett and Aidan Burke all earned bronze medals.
The improvement in green-belt Joshua typified the surge in the club, according to coach and mentor John Maxwell.
“He won the North Island, South Island and National Championships,” John says.
“At the start of the year he was a yellow belt and now he’s beating the best black belts in the country convincingly and he can represent New Zealand.
“Louise has been an Oceania champion and if she can avoid injury and social pressures then she is on the fast track to the Commonwealth Games.”
John says the club is “a bit like a family” as they are more forgiving and people “check their egos at the door”.
“They’re here to train hard, not rip each other’s heads off.
“We have phenomenal support with our parents. They don’t do a dump and run and treat us like a babysitting service, many of them stay and get involved and many have taken up judo because of their children or grandchildren.
“We all train to compete, we are working towards things.”
The club is hopeful of continuing to create judo players who are competing on the international stage.
They are no strangers to producing Commonwealth Games-capable athletes, but it is hoped the new facility would boost the profile and popularity of the sport in Nelson.
The club is keen to invest in its future and the junior numbers was highlighted at the Central Districts Closed Judo Championships at Nelson College Hall on Sunday.
A large number of Nelson juniors competed with distinction at the event which saw a good crowd of family and friends supporting the athletes all day.