Academy Artjoms gets judo gold star at British Schools Championships

ELITE ATHLETES: Megan Featherstone (left) and Artjoms Jurkhans (second right) with Commonwealth judo champion Nekoda Davis (centre).

ELITE ATHLETES: Megan Featherstone (left) and Artjoms Jurkhans (second right) with Commonwealth judo champion Nekoda Davis (centre).

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Kirton judoka Artjoms Jurkhans is top of the mat after a dominating display at the British Schools Judo Championships in Sheffield.

The Thomas Middlecott Academy student in Kirton demolished his challengers to win gold in the Boys (Years 10-11) category.

Artjoms, who also does Greco-Roman wrestling and mixed martial arts, won each of his four fights with Ippons at the IceSheffield Arena where more than 500 judoka from over 400 schools took part.

“I’m delighted that I won gold because I’ve been training extremely hard and it’s great to see that it’s paid off,” Artjoms said.

Julia Polley, principal at Thomas Middlecott Academy, said: “Congratulations to Artjoms for winning Gold at the British Schools Judo Championships and we are extremely proud of his achievements.

“The staff at Thomas Middlecott Academy work closely with Artjoms to balance his school work and training because he is a talented athlete and an inspiration to many of our younger students.”

Artjoms was previously featured as part of the Sports Stars of the Future series in our sister newspaper, the Spalding Guardian, last April.

Coached by his father Sergei, Artjoms said: “I’m better at wrestling because my dad was a wrestler, but I like judo more to be honest.

“It’s coming along, but you need speed to be a good wrestler and if your feet aren’t fast enough, you won’t get very far.

“But I’ve been told that if you’re aggressive in wrestling or judo, you’ll make mistakes.”

Artjoms had the ideal preparation for his golden performance in Sheffield when the academy was visited by Glasgow Commonwealth Games judo gold medallist Nekoda Davis.

Nekoda spent a day with students and staff, including an inspirational talk during a school assembly where she explained what it takes to become an elite athlete.

There were also training sessions run by Nekoda for each year group to give the students ideas about different sports they could take up.

Nekoda said: “It was a real pleasure to meet the students at Thomas Middlecott Academy because I started judo at the age of six and had to balance my training with my studies.

“Sometimes it was tough but passing my exams was really important to me.”

“My personal motto is ‘train hard, win easy’ and I know that if something doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

Artjoms was among the school’s aspiring athletes to meet Nekoda, along with Megan Featherstone who took bronze at the Commonwealth Taekwondo Championships in Edinburgh last November.

Megan said: “It was so inspiring to meet Nekoda and to talk to her about how she balanced her school work and training.

“It was also good to find out from Nekoda how she made the next move in becoming a professional athlete.”