THERE was gold medal glory for Redditch judo ace Laura Dangerfield at the Dai Ippo Open in Eindhoven, Holland.
Dangerfield competed in the senior section whilst her team-mates from Kidderminster-based Samurai Judo Club – fellow gold medallist Darcie Hancocks, Matt Hemer and James Hemer – were all in action in the junior events.
Dangerfield, a British National Judo Championship bronze medallist, was at her best at the Eindhoven Open as she stormed to the gold medal despite being up against the cream of Dutch fighters who seemed to tower over her physically.
Dangerfield, also a coach, led the four-player Samurai Judo Club contingent at the event as Hancocks – a recent contender for the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Sports Awards Junior Female Sports Person of the Year award – also took gold and there were creditable seventh places for brothers Matt and James Hemer.
Andrew Haffner, Dangerfield’s coach, said: “It is the third year that Laura has competed at this event, rated one of the strongest in Holland.
“Like most northern European countries, judo is far more popular in Holland than in Britain, so the competition is strong.
“Laura had four contests and won all four convincingly, moving up from the silver she won last year at this event to taking the gold this year. She always looked in control and her groundwork in particular was very strong.”
Currently the club’s most successful senior female player, 24-year-old Dangerfield has also just qualified for the British Senior Trials as one of the country’s top female players.
Hancocks won the bronze two years ago, then went one better last year with silver and this year she showed her progress by moving up one place further and taking the gold medal.
Her progress into the final was comfortable, with a series of good wins, and then in the final she was up against a much stronger girl.
Somehow the Dutch players always seem to be big and strong despite being the same weight but Hancocks played a superb tactical fight, out-gripping her opponent and picking her off with some excellent throws without ever conceding herself, to take the gold.
Matt Hemer won three contests out of five to take seventh place in a category of 30-plus and younger brother James, who recently won gold at the British National Championships for the second consecutive year, won two out of four to also take seventh.
For details about starting judo or information about the Samurai club and its activities, telephone 07761 122977 or visit www.samurai.org.uk.
Laura Dangerfield on her way to victory. (s)