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The Norfolk judo club with two national champions

PUBLISHED: 15:11 06 April 2020 | UPDATED: 15:11 06 April 2020

Aimey Barnard (left) and Oakley Durrant (right) with their gold medals. Picture: Karl Barnard

Aimey Barnard (left) and Oakley Durrant (right) with their gold medals. Picture: Karl Barnard

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A Norfolk father was bursting with pride as he watched his daughter win gold at a national judo competition.

Aimey Barnard when she started at age six and now with her national squad badge. Picture: Karl BarnardAimey Barnard when she started at age six and now with her national squad badge. Picture: Karl Barnard

Back in March, Karl Barnard, 42 from Dereham watched as his 12-year-old daughter, Aimey won national gold in the under 32kg grade at the AJA nation judo competition, in Birmingham.

Aimey started judo at the age of six, since then she has been competing and grading to achieve new belts for the past six years.

Mr Barnard said: “I’m very proud of her. It was strange when she lost the third fight as she won the two tougher matches.

“I was devastated for her as I thought she would have missed out, but we did the math and she had won it.”

From left to right - Aimey Barnard, Kohen King, Oakley Durrant, Elias King. Picture: Karl BarnardFrom left to right - Aimey Barnard, Kohen King, Oakley Durrant, Elias King. Picture: Karl Barnard

Aimey got involved at the Senryu judo club in Shipdham, after being introduced by the club founder and main coach Bob Hunters. She has since joined another club in Heacham.

The current pandemic means Aimey can no longer attend both of her clubs, but Mr Barnard said that she is keeping in shape at home and he doesn’t mind helping her with her passion.

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“When she is this good and she wants to do it you have to,” he said.

Aimey Barnard (right) and Oakley Durrant (left) with their gold medals. Picture: Karl BarnardAimey Barnard (right) and Oakley Durrant (left) with their gold medals. Picture: Karl Barnard

“I never had the opportunity when I was a kid. If they want to go a bit further, then that’s not a problem at all.”

Mr Barnard has also taken up judo after seeing his daughters compete in the sport. Five years later Karl now has a brown belt and has completed coaching badges.

The club sent Aimey and three other competitors to the competition. Elias King was injured during the event, while his brother, Kohen was in a very strong group, so neither finished on the podium.

There was another success story with eight-year-old Oakley Durrant, who won gold in the under 25kg national gold. Oakley has only been doing judo for 18 months but has already become a national champion.

Mr Barnard said: “Oakley’s attitude is perfect for judo. He studies and studies techniques and can go out onto the mat and nails it.”

Both Aimey and Oakley had qualified to fight in the Netherlands, but that has been postponed for the time being.

The club plans to take the same group to other national championships when they can.


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