Judo Championships: Watson ends season on a high

Whanganui teenager Keightley Watson gained his black belt the hard way at the National Judo Championships in Wellington at the weekend.

Four national titles and a black belt for teenage Whanganui heavyweight judoka Keightley Watson over the weekend may be a record of its own.

The 16-year-old Whanganui High School student topped off his New Zealand season on a high by obtaining his black belt the hard way by a line up Batsugan, and this has not been done for a number of years.

The process involves fighting and winning by ippon (one full point) over line-up of six black and brown belt junior and senior men one after the other with no gap or rest time between the 5 minute allocated fights.

This took Watson just 13 and a half minutes to complete. Winning each fight by ippon he became one of New Zealand's youngest to achieve this. 

"My understanding is there has been one younger at 15 back in the 1980s," Watson's mother Barbara Watson said.

"That was ex-All Black Steve McDowell."

Watson achieved this after he won both the Junior Men's plus 100kg national title and the Junior Men's open weight national title earlier in the day at the National Judo Championships in Wellington at the weekend.

On the Sunday, he was again on the mat competing in the Cadet Men's category were he again won the plus 81kg National title and followed this up with the Open Weight Cadets National title.

This is the second year in a row Watson has taken the same four National titles and the scary thing for his opponents is that he still has a year left to fight in the cadets (15-17) grade.

Next year he will be able to compete in three categories' in New Zealand - cadets, junior men (18-20) and senior men (21 plus).

And he achieved all this at the weekend after arriving back in the country 42 hours earlier from a six-day training camp with the Australian junior men's team at the Australian Institute of sport in Canberra with a couple of niggling injuries.

"He still achieved what he had set out to do over the weekend tournament," Barbara Watson said.

There is only one more tournament left on Watson's agenda this year, the Melbourne Open International at the end of October where he is eligible to compete in the cadet, junior men and senior men.

However, there will be no down time over the next three months because there is a possibility of a three-week training tour of Japan to gain more experience, but that will depend a lot on what is happening with world events in the Korean peninsula.

If this does not eventuate he will concentrate on weights and gym work and maybe take up the extended invitation to train in Sydney over the Christmas break, all in preparation for a busy 2018 season where he hopes to set the bar higher.

Other Wanganui judokas to win medals over the weekend were Whanganui City College Judo Gym instructor Gary Davies taking gold in the Male Masters under 90kg, Liam Goodhall silver in the Junior Men's under 90kg and bronze in the Juniors Men's Open and Caleb Glenn, bronze in the Cadet Mens under 73kg.

Wanganui Judo club members were also in the frame over the weakened with Daniel Watson competing for the first time in a while and taking a silver in the Senior Men's under 100kg, younger sibling Kasey Watson winning silver in the Junior men under 81kg category and Logan Bailie winning bronze in the Senior Boys under 36kg making for a good medal hall for the Wanganui judo clubs.

By Iain Hyndman
Wanganui Chronicle 5/10/17

Whanganui judokas Keightley Watson (left), Garry Davies & Liam Goodhall share the spoils at the National Judo Champs in Wellington, October 2017.

Whanganui judokas Keightley Watson (left), Garry Davies & Liam Goodhall share the spoils at the National Judo Champs in Wellington, October 2017.