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SSgt Lewis Hannington REME and Lt Col Jim Crompton AGC (ETS) returned to the European Judo Kata Championships this month in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. In their second ever European championships, they were drawn first in Katame-no-kata, opening the competition and setting the standard for the other teams to follow. Their performance saw them beating teams from across Europe to finish 8th in their group of 15; the first time in over a decade that a British pair has reached mid-table at the Europeans.

The event saw some 328 participants from 21 countries competing with a GBR contingent of 10 athletes and 4 coaches, making history by winning Gold in the Adaptive Kata section.

With only the first three from each Group qualifying for the final, Hannington and Crompton produced their strongest performance to date at this level, scoring 358, against last year’s score of 320. A 3-day kata training camp organised by the European Judo Union and delivered by senior instructors of the Kodokan institute in Japan (the home of judo) provided the pair the opportunity to develop another kata discipline, Kodokan Goshin-Jutsu, ahead of this year’s British Championships.

Reflecting on the week, Lt Col Crompton said:

“Last year I wasn’t sure if we were ready to enter the European Championships. I was pleased with our performance then, but most importantly, it opened doors for us that have seen us training and competing in France, Italy, Germany and Poland and winning Great Britain’s first international medal in a very long time when we came first in the Meximieux International Kata Tournament in France in February. We still have much to learn, and the competition from established teams is very tough, but we know that all of the teams are beatable. Our job now is to work on all we have learned this week to challenge for those top medal positions.”

The pair are current British Champions in Katame-no-kata and Nage-no-kata and placed second by one point in Itsutsu-no-kata at last year’s British Championships (only their second). Both are serving members of the Army, which has provided training facilities and financial support to fit judo around demanding work schedules.

Commenting on their progress and the development of kata over the last two years, SSgt Hannington said:

“Training and competing overseas has been instrumental to our development and our mid-table finish is a direct result of that. Training between international events in the UK then consists of practicing and refining the lessons we have learned. We continue to make progress with no sign of slowing, which is amazing for us, but also puts us in a position where we can share our knowledge with others across the Army and British Judo. Kata takes focus and dedication and we have been lucky to have the support of our families, the BJA kata group, Army Sport, the Army Judo Association and REME Sport”.

The pair will now focus on the British Championships in September, before heading to Las Vegas for their first World Championships in November.