Teenage kicks in Tokyo as city’s judo stars travel east

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Two rising judo players of the Edinburgh Judo Club have been selected by the Scottish Junior squad for an 18-day training camp in Tokyo at the beginning of June.

Liam Donkin and Reece Calder have been rewarded for comprehensive performances in competition and will travel to the Far East for an intense training regime with some of Japan’s top stars.

For 16-year-old Donkin, a 2010 British champion at under 90 kilograms, it is a rare opportunity he cannot wait to undertake, admitting he will use the experience as preparation for the national championships in October later this year – a title he is hoping to regain after suffering defeat in 2011.

“Japan produces the best judo players so it will be a great opportunity for myself and the rest of the Scottish squad,” Donkin said. “It will be good to see how they approach their training. I’m really looking forward to it and will use the experience to help me prepare for the British Championships.”

Donkin, below, has already represented the Scottish and Great Britain national squads, and with a CV which includes participation at both the European Championships and Youth Olympic Games, his selection to board the plane in six weeks may not appear as much of a surprise. However, with limited financial support available, Donkin is appreciative of any help offered. He said: “I think both the club and my school are going to help me with some fundraising events like a car wash and school disco so I’m pleased with that. Judo Scotland are usually quite good and help out but I think this is one is too costly. I have competed in both Sweden and Germany as well so it’s great to see not only different cultures but also how other people perform.” At 18, Calder is the elder of the two Scottish team-mates but is just as enthusiastic about the sport he fell in love with at the age of four. Similarly to Donkin, the former Gracemount High pupil is relishing his summer voyage to Tokyo and is already planning a return trip at some point in the near future.

“It’s somewhere I have always wanted to visit with Japan being the home of judo. I have always wanted to go and train and maybe at some point in the next few years I can have the option to spend some more time there. But it’s a real honour to be asked to go out there with the Scotland squad and train. With the decent results I have had this year, I hope to get the chance to represent Great Britain for the first time at both the European Cup and European Junior Championships later on.”

Calder has just returned from competing at the Northern Irish Open where he picked up two bronze medals for competing in both the under-81 kg junior and senior categories. With the countdown now on until he repacks his bags for his next adventure, the squad are sure to benefit enormously with their accommodation and mentors synonymous with judo’s elite.

“If you are a judo player, everybody knows about Tokai University. Most of the top Japanese players come out of this particular university club so to stay there and train with the Japanese squad will be just brilliant,” added Calder. “We’ll do some practice fighting but also some technical sessions as well so it will be pretty intense. But with our time off we’re also going to learn a bit more about the history of judo. The coaches are planning on taking us on tours around Tokyo and visiting the temples as well.”

To help provide sponsorship for the teenagers’ trip please e-mail edinburghjudo@aol.com .