Locals succeed at Judo titles
TEETH were gritted, toes were dug in for a big push and the occasional groan of effort bellowed as bodies were thrown at the Australian Judo Union national championships in Toormina.
Competitors arrived from all eastern states for the contests of skill and strength, known as 'randori'.
Three Coffs Coast judo clubs dominated the younger divisions and Toormina and Woolgoolga players took out the men's open and women's events as well.
Several competitors performed exhilarating and dramatic throws resulting in impressive 'ippons' (point-scoring throws of an opponent onto their back).
Leading Coffs Coast judo sensei Cliff Illingworth appeared keen to put on a show for the many juniors watching his bouts and won a gold medal in his division from Kuzuzhi (Toormina) black belt Charlie Laidlaw with a surprise move that left Laidlaw gasping.
Kuzushi Judo Club's Cyal Moriarty put in a solid fight to defeat a determined Craig Farrington from Sang Rok Judo Club in Victoria and Woopi Warriors' lightning-fast Leon Gray in the men's open division. Craig Farrington won the men's under 90kg event from silver medallist Leon Gray and bronze medallist Clive Simmonds (Coffs Harbour).
Nick Riches from the Highlands International Judo Club impressed many with his skills against open men's competitors, before winning the special needs division.
Karina Rothacker from Woopi Warriors showed gritted determination to win the women's event from silver medallist Melinda Howe-Jones from Kuzushi and Linda Dawson from Tweed PCYC in several intense and fast-paced matches.
Outstanding junior gold medallists were Victorian Sam Farrington, Yuri Capper and Bailey Brennan, both from Tsunami Judo Club. Showing great knowledge and developing skills were younger gold medallists James Rothacker, Alex Simmonds, Joshua Mara, Jack Dawson, Jacob Smidt, Casey Dawson and Holly Algie.