Judo body targets 2016
LONDON – If all goes according to plan, it won’t be eight years before Barbados sends another judoka to the next Olympic Games, nor will he or she be going alone.
In fact, according to national judo coach Ian Weithers, there are at least five athletes, including 2012 debutant Kyle Maxwell, who could represent Barbados at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Maxwell was the third judoka from Barbados to make it to the Olympic stage, following Andrew Payne in 1996 and Barry Jackman in 2004.
But Maxwell was beaten by world No. 2 Riki Nakaya of Japan at the London Olympics on Monday by an ippon in the men’s 73kg judo competition. He was pinned to the mat and gave up maximum points.
Weithers said the Barbados Judo Association would be taking a structured approach over the next four years, through training and competition opportunities.
Among those he identified were 14-year-old Nathan Weithers; 17-year-olds Asa Weithers and Onoh-Obasi Okey, the lone female, as well as Maxwell and Levar Arthur who are both adults.
“So we have five that will be on the programme seriously, trying to prepare for all of the regional and Pan American competitions,” the coach told MIDWEEK SPORTS soon after Maxwell competed and lost in the second round here at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“One of the major things we will be looking at is the Commonwealth Games in Scotland .
“We want to have a team preparing towards that and see as we move towards the quadrennial, in addition to Kyle, if we can have one or two athletes qualify for the Olympics in Rio.
“It is a tough call but it is possible as Kyle has shown them, and we are going to go after it with everything.”
Maxwell spent the last two years competing at the Commonwealth Games, Central American and Caribbean Games, several World Cups and the World Judo Championships to gain the required points. For the past month or so, he has been on a training stint at Bath University.
Weithers said the physical work – including running, weights and conditionin – could be done in Barbados. But the more technical side, especially getting the world-class sparring judo partners couldn’t be done by staying at home.
The Judo Association has formed a partnership with Martinique and Weithers said the countries can do exchanges to provide each other with competition, then the Barbadians would travel further afield for “final preparations or big events” once they were able to secure the financial support.
Maxwell’s stint at Bath University has also opened doors there.
He said he also had a role to play in the development of the other judokas and he hoped there would be at least four of them competing on the international circuit or going to Rio in four years.