Nauru Olympic visit makes Kendal 'part of The Games'

First published in Patrick O'Kane The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Senior News/Sport Reporter

DURING the next five weeks chairman of Kendal Judo Club Peter Holme will use my blog to discuss the training programme of a group of boxers from the South Pacific at Kendal Dojo

The Nauru boxers went home this weekend and they were asked what has been the benefit to them of the five weeks they have spent in the DOJO? They didn’t stop talking for the next hour.

The most important item in all their answers was the training and the facilities. They had been to various clubs and venues during their stay, including the EIS in Sheffield, where the British boxing squad train, and they felt that Kendal was as good a place as any they had seen. Indeed they were openly boasting to the Tongan boxers who are based in Liverpool, that nothing they had could beat the Lake District.

Jake, the Super Heavyweight, said, for the first time in his life he is truly fit. DJ the Featherweight would put down his fitness as the best memory of his time in Kendal. Joseph, Welterweight, had the variety in sparring as his memory. “It is something we just don’t get back home” he said. The Lightweight, Colan, was amazed when they were taken to Centre Parcs just outside of Penrith and on the Windermere Lake Cruise. He had never seen anything like it in his life.

But most of all it was the training they got under the watchful eye of Ian Irwin. And it was watching, and listening to Ian, and Judo Coaches Mike Liptrot and Barry Hereward that has raised the Nauru Boxing Coach Tim to new heights and he is full of ideas to take back home. There are going to be some big changes made in Nauru.

Some of the things, perhaps, are taken for granted in the DOJO with international athletes, such as Michael Horley, David Groom and Danny Harper, in attendance training all the time. Tim was fascinated that the judo players would come in at set times of the day, without supervision, and train as hard as when Mike Liptrot was there. Their professionalism was inspiring he said.

The variety of the training was unexpected. Running up and along Scout Scar, round the Castle Hill, rope climbing in the DOJO, weight lifting exercises with rocks rather than normal weights so they had to concentrate to overcome the uneven distribution of the weight.

The media interest was at times almost overwhelming. TV, radio and newspaper interviews, were, eventually, taken in their stride.

Tim said they did not realise how much interest there was in their trip. Not just in Kendal but everywhere they went, including Blackpool where they went to a school to talk to the pupils about their island home.

But one of the most appreciated days was the boxing tournament that was arranged for their benefit. (DJ said he would remember the boxer who beat him for the rest of his life. He said he won’t be beaten by him again if they ever meet a second time.) The generosity of the people was staggering. From the proceeds, apart from new personal boxing items such as head guards, gloves, body guards etc they could also afford to buy a boxing training timer – a piece of apparatus they could only dream about in the past.

Finally they really appreciated the Judo Club members, Michael Liptrot, who organised arranged and supervised everything; Barry the chef who cooked for them and gave them tips on diet and training such as how to check pulse rates; other club members who drove them to the various boxing clubs and took them into their homes, on the occasional days out.

Most of all to Ian Irwin, a hard taskmaster but, say the boys, it has been worth it. The boxers will go home with renewed efforts to qualify for London 2012 and the expectation that their Olympic Dream CAN come true.

As for Kendal Judo Club it is back to normal business this week with the British Judo National Junior and Cadet Squads’ Training Camp in preparation for their age bands' World Championships. The Nauru visit, however, has proved that Kendal can be part of The Games.

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