Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

For a while I had thought that my last blog was behind me, however, some weeks clear of the Commonwealth Games, I’m thinking it might be a good thing to keep this going. So, before it’s a distant echo in the past, here are my thoughts on Glasgow 2014.

Firstly, I thought the games were a massive success. In the shadow of the Olympics it would have been easy to fudge the Commonwealths, but they were run amazingly, the people of Glasgow and Scotland got behind everyone and helped create a huge sense of occasion and a grand stage on which the athletes from all sports delivered some spectacular performances.
The crowds were amazing, not just in judo, getting behind all the home athletes and the minnows, those from the tiny island nations. I was lucky enough to be in the arena to hear the cheers of the crowd at seeing Kiribati’s David Kataotau winning weightlifting, and the delight as Hampden roared Lynsey Sharpe home to a Silver medal. The spectators at the Judo, however, were above and beyond. The appreciation and love they showed as their fighters appeared in the medal matches was something I am sure everyone will remember long after their competitive careers are over.
The Scottish team were sensational, with 13 medals it was their best ever Games, and were pipped by the English team to the medal top spot by a single silver medal.
I found it an emotional rollercoaster, especially the first day, the delight of seeing everyone perform brilliantly and win medals mingled with (on occasion) being close to tears as the realisation hit home of what I was missing out on. It was great to see everyone do well, but I was happiest and even proud to see the performances of James Millar and Matt Purssey, and equally devastated that Pat (Dawson) missed out in the hardest way possible. Still, on a positive note for Pat, it’s not like they would put up a life size poster of the whole team with medals and smiles just outside the gym where you train everyday of your life. 😉

On a personal note I had been planning to call it a day following the Commonwealths, however, the buzz of the crowd and general good feeling around the tournament has left me wondering if Rio isn’t too far around the corner. Returning from my knee rehab is still a long way off, but there could be plenty of time to hunt for qualification, so who knows what next year might bring!20140917-212352-77032330.jpg

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The day it all went wrong. And other stories.

Unfortunately I will not be competing in the Commonwealth games. On the last day of the prep camp in Slovenia I managed to wreck my knee, tearing my ACL and LCL, posterior capsule and chipping the head my femur. Despite medical insistence that it would be impossible to compete with this injury, with the support of the coaches and physiotherapists (thanks Olly) I tried to get back to training in the misguided belief that I would be fine. Several weeks later I managed to hurt myself again, not seriously, but enough to know I wouldn’t be able to compete, and wasting everyone’s efforts to get me back on the mat.

After the initial injury I wasn’t too phased, stubbornly ignoring all advice to the contrary I don’t think I’ve ever been more motivated to train, and yet been unable to. The guys at JudoScotland were great, always having time for me and working with me through rehab. There were days when I was depressed, frustrated at the lack of progress, or had just let my doubts get the better of me, but generally I was wasn’t too worried, and felt I would be on the mat in Glasgow.

The second time I hurt my knee left me feeling pretty devastated. Competing at Glasgow had really begun to feel really exciting, there is a really positive atmosphere in JudoScotland about the Games, and it was a blow to suddenly not be a part of it any more. Again, though, I can’t fault how supportive everyone has been, from squeezing me in for an operation on the Friday following my injury to sorting me out with tickets so I can support my friends and teammates as they win their medals.

There have been a lot of people who have made sacrifices for me and supported me throughout my career, and with a lot of those people going to be in Glasgow, I am sorry to have left them disappointed. I can’t thank them enough for the love and support they’ve shown me through the years, and hopefully I’ll be less of a pain in the future!

I wish the best of luck to everyone competing, especially the Scottish guys, everybody in the team is more than capable of medalling and with a bit of luck that can happen. Whilst I am gutted not to be a part of the team, and it’s going to be bittersweet to be sat in the stands, I am really excited to be able to support my friends on, especially knowing how much this event means to them.

The draws for the Commonwealth Games can be found at ippon.org

Go Scotland!
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The final camp

With the commonwealths only 6 weeks away JudoScotland have athletes competing and training in Slovenia, with part of the group going on to compete in the Hungarian Grand Prix next weekend. Some of the team that has come away are using the competitions as part of their final preparation for the commonwealths, whilst younger members of the team will be hoping that slovenia is a building block in Olympic qualification for Rio and beyond.
This is going to be my final competition before Glasgow, and is perhaps my final training camp abroad as a competitive Judoka (hopefully someday I’ll be back around as a coach). I love a training camp. As gruellingly painful as they can be training camps are a really important part of Judo, where you get exposure to the different fighting styles of many nationalities, and learn how to be effective or where you need to develop.

The competition did not go great in Slovenia, I fought well but made some simple mistakes that had a big impact on the result. Still it’s better to make the mistakes now, recognise them, so that they don’t happen in 6 weeks time.

So I started writing this just after the tournament in Slovenia, before the start of the camp. The camp was good, until a hiccup or two on the final day, but on the whole, I enjoyed being away on my first (possibly last) international camp since before London 2012. Anyway, this coming weekend is Budapest Grand Prix, I’m not fighting but GB do have a strong team going out to fight, so keep an eye out for the results!

Essentially Supplemental

If there is anyone still reading this (hope so) I would be interested to know your thoughts on nutritional supplements, whether you take them, and if you do, what you take?
Most of the supplements I take and have used in the past have been on the advice of people I train with, followed by a little of my own research (usually a quick google search will do the trick), although recently the advice has come from JudoScotland support team.

This is the exhaustive list of stuff i supplement with at the moment-

Creatine (plenty of empirical evidence supporting its benefits)
Beta alanine (again plenty of research behind this)
Fish oils (has a massive impact on whether I get DOMS)
ferrous sulphate (due to low levels of iron, makes the bathroom an interesting environment)
Vitamin d (living in Scotland I am at a constant risk of Ricketts!)

Supplements can be a minefield. There is massive variety from every one of the hundreds of different manufacturers, and all promising to help you make massive gains in performance (or size) that it can be hard to know if and where to start.
The controversy with supplements comes as the industry is almost completely unregulated, that muscle building powder you’ve started using because it promised massive gains may or may not have its entire list of ingredients listed, may or may not be contaminated (perhaps accidentally, although it’s not unheard of for deliberate contamination with more illicit substances to occur) and may or may not actually deliver on its (usually) outrageous promises. For the Olympic sports this is a problem, and every so often you are advised against using a certain supplement due to the failure of the supplement under batch testing, or worse- an athlete failing a drugs test using said supplement.
Part of the UK anti-doping agency’s 100% Me campaign is about being fully accountable and responsible for everything that goes into your body in order to help promote a clean and fair platform for sport (itself an interesting concept that might form the basis of another blog). So how do we get assurances that the supplements we are taking are clean? Well the closest you can get seems to be via batch testing, not a guarantee as such but the closest you can get. The informed-sport website has a searchable list of batch tested supplements ( http://www.informed-sport.com ) and is probably the most you can do, without being a guarantee, to minimise the risk of mistakenly taking something prohibited.
Having said all that, I do use supplements periodically throughout the year, largely during heavy lifting season and in the run up to competition, not only for the effects on recovery, but also because it reminds to try and get my diet right. Admittedly, during most of the year there are lots (LOTS) of things about my diet I could clean up (I usually start with the cake, but that tends to creep back in as I cut other stuff out), but using creatine, beta alanine, etc., makes me feel like I should at least be making a concerted effort with my diet.

Anyway, as I said at the start, I would be interested to find out what other people use, and why, or why not if that is the case.

Team Announcement

On Wednesday of this week the Scottish Team competing in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games was officially announced and I am delighted and very proud to say that I will be competing at -100kg.

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Scotland are taking a full team of 14 athletes, 2 of whom (Sarah Clark and John Buchanan) are survivors from the Manchester Commonwealth Games.

The full teams are-

Women

Kim Renicks

Louise Renicks

Steph Inglis

Connie Ramsay

Sarah Clark

Sally Conway

Sarah Adlington

 

Men

John Buchanan

Patrick Dawson

Andy Burns

Matt Purssey

Euan Burton

Me

Chris Sherrington

 

The announcement really hammers home how soon the Games are, only 8 or 9 weeks away, and it is exciting to know I’ll be a part of them. The length of time also means that there is still plenty of grafting to be done and the upcoming weeks will see an increase in the intensity of conditioning, whilst the strength based work becomes more explosive. The final few weeks before the competition will see the training taper down for a lot of the athletes, to allow full recovery so a peak can be achieved for the tournament.

Exciting times!

On a side note- Does anyone want to play a quick game of ‘Where’s Tasty?’. Very similar to the classic ‘where’s Wally?’ the aim is to try and find Scotland’s own big man Chris Sherrington in this photo- (might develop this game in the next few weeks…)

 

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Skinfolds, A battle with a belly

A fortnight ago what started as an ordinary day very quickly became tragic. During what appeared to be a routine skinfold measurement it turned out that I was, somehow, at my fattest ever with a body fat measurement of 94.4mm (apparently people no longer do a percentage as it can be a wildly inaccurate measure).

As a vain man I was faced with a dilemma, do I continue on my present course, indulging my sweet tooth with every delicious treat I pass by relying on the heavy training load to keep my metabolism relatively in check, or should I make the effort to trim up for the Commie Games, and get my (frankly) ridiculous eating habits and ‘tellytubby belly’ (thanks for the encouragement Helen) in check?

Two weeks later (at my now fortnightly fat check) my new skinfold of 81.6mm hopefully shows which option I chose. How did I perform this miracle of fat loss? Well, I stopped eating every cake and chocolate bar I passed, and went for the odd jog. And then I had the skinfold. And then I had a cake.

Perhaps the next two weeks aren’t going to be so easy.

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The 2nd best way to not get sleep, and things to do whilst you wait…

My brother finally made his Bellator debut at the weekend, ending the fight in the first round with hadaka jime (a slightly less deep rear naked strangle) (and that’s not me being a pretentious little judo fan, that’s how he saw it). The fighters weighed in on the Thursday, Stuart at 228lbs and his opponent at 261lbs and the fight took place a day later at the Rama Casino in Ontario at Bellator 119. After staying up half the night in near panic as his fight appeared to have been cancelled (it wasn’t aired as part of the prelims on spike.com, instead being put back until after the main card was broadcast live) I fell asleep shortly before his bout occurred, only to be woken 45 minutes later as he rang to delightedly share his news.

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Knowing that the main card would be shown in its entirety the following night on Viva I catnapped through the day so that I could power through what was not the most exciting card only to find that once again my brothers fight had been cut from the programming! Fortunately I did get to see the fight on the Sunday, my mum and dad had made the journey over to Canada and, along with some friends, had watched their skinny-looking baby boy savage a man almost 35lbs heavier, and videotaped one of the big screens. Personally, I think the fight was great, Stuart looked really comfortable standing, was able to take the fight to the ground when he wanted, and was dominant once he was down there. The final performance and result was totally worth losing sleep over, although I apologise to those who also stayed up to watch the fight on my convincing, only to find it wasn’t aired. Worth every one of your tired eyes. Hopefully, Bellator will get a copy of the fight online before too long.

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Judo-wise the team in Scotland are waiting for the official announcement of the Commonwealth Games Team, which will take place on the 28th of May? The last couple of weeks have seen some pretty intense conditioning sessions for the squad, mixed with some rather more fun (largely competitive) team building activities. To give an idea of some of the stuff we’ve been put through I’ve put some videos up on youtube (see the boss, David Somerville with his feet in a bucket- http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=j247zDfWkvA , and a couple of videos of the some of the guys running the steps at Murrayfield- http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtVtXQHVmgE , they largely star the big man Chris, and Pat) and at some point Louise Renicks is going to be posting pics of all the fun. Big thanks for everyone for hosting and helping out, especially Murrayfield (and Greg for sorting that out), One Spa at the Sheraton in Edinburgh (and Andy for arranging that), and the members and coach of the Scottish gymnastics team out at Lasswade.

Although I am responsible for the wonderful pics here of the Commie games squad! the pics from Bellator 119 have all been acquired from the web, so good job to whoever took them, I think largely they are from Sherdog.com. Keep it up!

 
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