Judo joy for Perse pupil in regional championships
Antony Villaverde (Year 8) threw everything into winning gold at the British Judo Eastern Area Championships.
Competing for Comberton Judo Club, he triumphed in the boys’ 12 to 15 year-old under-50kg category at the regional tournament in Thetford.
Notably, it was Antony’s first competition at such a level, with the field featuring more experienced older judokas with higher graded belts.
He said: “I was petrified I’d get knocked out in the first round! It definitely got tougher as it went on and I played four matches to get to the final.
“The final was a really heated match. We were both exhausted because we’d been fighting for so long.
“My opponent threw me first and I thought it was all over for me. I was on the ground and somehow got out from underneath him and got on top of him and that all happened in a split second.”
“It was such a thrill to win. I never thought I was going to win it, I just wanted to try my best, but I was really happy and my teachers and club were really proud of me.”
Antony began judo four years ago after being encouraged by his dad, who is also a keen martial artist, and quickly took to it.
However, as the Covid pandemic hit, he was unable to train until his dad laid down some judo mats in their attic.
He said: “Every day during the second lockdown, we’d do some judo practice and that was really fun, but as soon as everything opened up again, I was straight back in the club and won my first competition.”
Antony, who was a red belt at the Eastern Area competition, also praised his club and instructors for the part they had played in helping him so far.
He said: “Comberton is quite a small club, but the standard of teaching is absolutely amazing.
“There are always new people coming to the club and there’s such a great atmosphere. Everyone has fun, but we all push each other and train really hard.”