Sport

Army judo stars target success at championships

Watch: Army Judo stars target international success.

Soldiers representing cap badges from across the country have taken part in the Army Judo Championships where some of the best Army judoka took the chance to test themselves against forces rivals. 

A sport that caters for all shapes and sizes, judo is a sport where British athletes have enjoyed success at national and international level, and military judoka are no exception. 

Craftsman Vladimir Olenic won a bronze medal at the British championships last year and is now targeting success on the international stage. 

At 40 years of age, the Moldovan-born athlete joined the Army 10 years ago and, with the support of the forces, the Walsall-based athlete is set to represent Great Britain at the Judo Grand Prix in Portugal where he will be targeting his first international medal. 

He said: "I think this is a big, big opportunity for me and a big opportunity to show the Army that a person from the Army can represent Great Britain at the high level. 

"My next target will be the international level, one medal in the Grand Prix would be an amazing achievement so I am looking for that."

As far as prospects go, there are high hopes for fellow Army athlete Lance Corporal Christi Pretorius, who just won double gold at the British Championships last year. 

Although currently nursing an injury, the Youth Olympic Games silver medallist has competed on the international scene for Zimbabwe and is now deciding whether to continue her judo career with the southern African nation or make the switch to compete for Great Britain. 

She said: "I've got two different pathways that I need to decide on, whether that's staying with Zimbabwe, I've got Olympic funding for that, or possibly switch back to GBR (Great Britain) and get some great training up in Walsall and represent them along with Army Judo."

LCpl Pretorius says that joining the Army has lifted her confidence and has brought plenty of benefits to her Judo career. 

She said: "I think joining the Army has given me a confidence I never knew I could even have, from basic training and then Phase 2, it's just made me an individual that I know what I can do. 

"I used to be very shy and since joining the Army, I definitely developed as a person and as a young girl."

Even if LCpl Pretorius decides to make the switch to compete for Great Britain, the rising star has big aspirations to compete at the highest level. 

She said: "In October this year, I want to be going to the Junior World Championships, that's my biggest goal of the year and, in preparation for that, it will be multiple Junior European Cups and Senior European Cups, possibly more senior events if possible. 

"Other than that, the Olympics would then be the main goal."

There will be an exciting year ahead for Forces Judo with the Inter Services also on the Judo calendar as well as domestic and international medals to be won.