Third national medal in four years for young Brookmans Park judo star Oliver Almond
PUBLISHED: 16:42 05 December 2019
A judoka from Brookmans Park has claimed his third national judo medal in four years.
Oliver Almond, winner of the gold at U12 level in 2016 and U15s last year, picked up a bronze in the U18 category this time around.
It is a remarkable achievement, especially considering the Dame Alice Owen's School pupil is just 14-year-old and was competing at the much older category for the first time.
The success also gains him automatic selection to the England Development Squad where he has the opportunity to be selected to represent England at more advanced European events in 2020.
The British Championships took place at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield with over 500 of the very best judo players from across the country taking part.
The U18 Cadet category is a significant step up in difficulty as it allows the use of full-adult judo rules including submissions by strangle and arm-lock which were are not permitted at U15 level.
Almond started the competition very confidently but was narrowly defeated with a small score in the first round by Tonbridge's George Holland.
Moving into the repercharge he knew he would have to face three tough contests if he was going to take home a medal.
The first bout was a rematch of the 2018 U15 final from last year against Ali Bougoffa which he was able to win in relative comfort.
He was then drawn against Scottish number one Mason Shankley who he dispatched with a superbly executed arm-lock to gain a submission.
That left a final battle with friend and fellow England squad member, Max Cheung, who had won gold at both the Welsh and Dutch Opens earlier in the year.
With both boys knowing each other's favourite techniques, Almond opted to play a tactical game to control the gripping and force his opponent into an error.
And with just 37 seconds left on the clock, Cheung launched a huge attack which Almond countered, rolling him directly onto his back for the decisive score needed.
His success comes from yet another long year of hard work.
With the support of both his family and his school, Almond has competed across the UK and Europe over 28 weekends in the pursuit of judo excellence.