Vale Judo’s Daniel Bennett was crowned British 2013 U66kg champion, winning his first national gold medal on Sunday.
Daniel was among a team from the Oakham-based club competing in the toughest event on the judo calendar over two days at Sheffield last weekend.
His performance was the highlight of series of outstanding displays from the club’s eight competitors with Clemence Barnes narrowly missing out on a medal after picking up an injury.
The event is the premier judo competition of the year and helps players gain ranking points to win places in the 2014 England Squad.
Head coach at Vale Judo Club, Mike Newton said: “All their performances demonstrated the hard work that has gone in on the mats and the time they have put in over the last 12 months.
“There are better things still to come over their judo careers but this sets the tone for the year. This is the biggest event of the year. Every other competition is a regional event.”
Holly Newton, recently crowned Rutland’s Young Sportswoman of the Year and Vale’s most experienced competitor, was still recuperating from injury so the pressure to get results was on the rest of the Vale Judo Squad.
On Saturday, Callum Rowley, Rutland’s Junior Sportsman of the Year fought in a new weight category and within a new three year age band, gaining valuable experience against seasoned competitors.
Megan Rowley, Sofia Palmer and Alex Cutforth also fought hard with Alex coming closest to a rostrum place.
Barnes fought hard in the o63kg pre-cadets group and was in line for a bronze or silver before her injury.
Despite that disappointment, her coach added: “She is clearly seen as one of the fighters to beat in this category.”
On Sunday, Ben Buckby and Emma Philip were in action as well as Daniel Bennett.
Ben and Emma fought hard and demonstrated progress without picking up medals.
Daniel then cemented his position in the England squad by dominating his category, winning a nail-biting final in the pre-cadets u66kg category.
Vale Judo club has beginners courses starting for U8s, U11s, U16s and adults. Places are limited; see ww.valejudo.org.uk for details.