Judo success: Penrith’s newest national champions

Jacob Raphael in action on the Gold Coast.
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Two kids from Kokoro Judo Club in High Street have returned from the Gold Coast as National Champions.

13-year-old Jacob Raphael and 10-year-old William Waters were crowned the best in their age group for the first time earlier this month while competing at the Judo Australia National Championships.

The pair were in red-hot form throughout the tournament, taking down their opponents one by one on their way to glory.

After finishing with silver at last year’s National Championships, Jacob was thrilled to go one better this time around.

“Leading up to Nationals, I felt prepared but I was still nervous,” he told the Weekender.

“This was my third year at Nationals, so I feel like I have been working towards it for a while.

Jacob Raphael.

“It feels really good to win. I trained a lot and sacrificed time with my friends during the school holidays as I was busy training – plus I gave up gaming, which was hard, but winning made it worthwhile.”

Competing in the large U15 category, the Year 7 Penrith Anglican College student battled five boys on the way to gold, with his second last opponent a lofty challenge.

“My second last fight was against a really tall guy from Western Australia,” Jacob said.

“Having a tall opponent is a challenge because they have the advantage of their size to overpower you.

“You need to be smart and not take risks. I had been training with older guys at my club and that helped.”

Also representing Kokoro Judo on the national stage was Byron McIntosh, who finished fifth, Alex Bestuzhev, who finished fifth, and Bruno Waters, who finished eighth.

Kokoro Judo owner and head coach Jean Claude Raphael said he was enormously proud of all of his students who competed in Queensland.

William Waters.

“I am very proud of every single one of our athletes who competed at Nationals,” he said.

“Leading up to it, the team turned up to each session, trained hard and developed grit and determination. I know they all gave their best.

“It doesn’t always go the way you want on the day, but that’s judo. When we fall down, we learn from it and then we get back up again.”

As for what’s next for Jacob, he’s booked in to get braces before getting back into the gym to prepare for next season and keep ticking off goals.

“I am addicted to judo. It’s an amazing sport and I enjoy the thinking aspect – learning how to read my opponents,” he told the Weekender.

“I’m getting braces soon, so I need to have time off judo for a few weeks. I’m not looking forward to that.”

Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is the Weekender's Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.

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