The Wales Millennium Centre will host a sporting event for the very first time as 661 competitors from 24 nations come to the capital for the Fighting Films Commonwealth Judo Championships 2012.
Competition gets underway on Monday (23rd January) with the grand masters over 30 age-group competition. Tuesday is the turn of the juniors (under 20’s) and cadets (under 17’s), with the full senior competition concluding the event on Wednesday.
Paul Williams is the event director and is looking forward to a competition that will help grow participation and elite performance in Wales. He said:
“Judo has always been strong in Wales but not very good at selling itself.
“When we bid for the event in Singapore in 2010 we had a vision for an event that would make a real impact.
“Part of that vision was our desire to use a venue that was different from the typical sporting hall you would usually associate with judo.
“We think we’ve achieved that by securing the Millennium Centre.
“We hope we can make a dent in the awareness of our sport. Certainly, Welsh judo has now got an excellent reputation in other countries.”
“There are currently around 30,000 people regularly taking part in judo in Wales with an official membership of 2,500.
“The Welsh team at the championships will be made up 52 players in the senior, junior and cadet events with a further 22 masters players.
“In the senior section, Welsh hopes will rest on the likes of 21 year-olds Fiona Jones from Llanelli and Natalie Powell of Builth Wells.
“Also from Swansea, junior Jade Lewis has recently picked up European medals.
“In the masters, Jason Picton will be looking to win on home soil exactly 20 years after he won a title when the competition last came to Wales.
“For many of our young players, this competition is another stepping stone towards the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 and beyond.
“Immediately afterwards around a dozen teams will stay on for a pre-London 2012 training camp based in Cardiff. They are all looking to step up their preparation and see it as an ideal opportunity. They will train with judo players from Wales at the national dojo in the Sport Wales National Centre. It’s a fantastic opportunity for these individual from our clubs to learn.
“We’ve had so much support from the Welsh Government to make this event happen.
“Another element has been the delivery team, which has totalled about 100. That’s a big volunteer workforce and we’ve been keen to leave a skills legacy for them. For example, representatives of Welsh judo have been buddied up with the IT experts at the European Judo Union.
“There’s been a buzz about the event and tickets sales have been very encouraging. For our finals on Tuesday the circle is almost sold out.
“We would urge people to buy tickets in advance and come and enjoy some top level sport.”
Tickets are available to purchase at the Millennium Centre or from www.wmc.org.uk.
Prices start from £5 and are available for daily preliminaries from 9pm. The finals are scheduled for 6pm each day.