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A Level student triumphs as British Judo Champion, balancing academics and athletic excellence

Following an incredible journey of dedication and discipline, A Level student at City of Bristol College, Oriol Rubio Ruiz has been crowned the Under 18 British Judo Champion 2023.

Introducing himself, Oriol said: “I study A Levels at City of Bristol College. I am doing Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths. I am hoping to enter university to study Medicine. I am also undertaking a Diploma of Sports Excellence in Judo supported by Camberley Judo Club and England Judo. It is a two-year course which awards UCAS points equivalent to an A Level.”  

Starting judo when he was only three-years-old, Oriol spoke of his journey: “I started judo in Spain when I was around three-years-old. It was a hobby at first, but after moving to England when I was five-years-old and resuming judo at Swindon Judo Club, I started my competitive journey. First at club and local competitions, then regional competitions and moving all the way up to national and international competitions.”

Oriol has harvested a multitude of incredible achievements, including a black belt at only 15-years-old, he said: “During all my years in judo, I have also been undertaking exams and gradings to prove my skills and competence in judo. I achieved my black belt at 15 years old, which was a really proud moment for me and a great reward for all the effort and hard work.”  

This year, Oriol has continued with a reign of success, he commented: “In this academic year, 2023-24, I have competed at the English Closed Judo Championships in London and at the Welsh Open Judo Championships in Cardiff, both top national events, getting bronze medals in both events. I also travelled to France in October to compete at the Harness International Judo tournament. There were over 700 judokas representing countries from around the world, including Japan and Georgia, which are some of the strongest countries in the sport.

“After a long day fighting, I lost in the fight for bronze having to settle for 5th place. However, my excellent performance granted me selection for the England Performance Potential (EPP) Squad and I will be travelling to Italy and Spain in February to compete at the International Judo Federation Cadet Eurocup in each country. I am very proud to represent Great Britain at the top international level.

“In December, I competed at the British Judo Championships, which is the top national event in Great Britain with the best judokas from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It was a tough day, stepping on the mat at 9am and fighting all the way to the final, with the final block starting at 4pm. At high-level competition, you need to be in top form, not only with your training and fitness, but also with your strategy and competition management. I was extremely happy when I won the final and I was crowned British Champion. I have attended five British championships so far (2018-2023) and I have medalled in all but one (two gold medals, two silver medals). It is always a privilege to be able to compete with the best.”  

So, what do the next steps for a British champion look like? Oriol stated: “My goal in judo is to compete at World Championships and Olympics. It is an ambitious and difficult goal to achieve, however I am very committed and determined. Currently, I train around 20 hours per week at Bradley Stoke Judo Club, Bristol, Camberley Judo Club, Swindon Judo Club and 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, Swindon. I also attend monthly weekend training camps at the British Judo National Centre in Walsall, plus regular international training camps like the one I attended at the end of January in Poland as part of the England squad preparation for the Eurocups.    

“I have been very lucky with the support received from City of Bristol College and from my secondary school, Nova Hreod Academy, Swindon. Without their support, I would not be able to attend international competitions and training camps, which are paramount to a successful judo career.”

Oriol’s tutor, Ellie Gillis is incredibly proud of his achievements. She said: “We’re very proud of Oriol and all of his hard work. Oriol has had multiple training camps and competitions across the UK & the world so it’s always interesting to hear about his latest experiences and achievements.

“Not only is Oriol succeeding in judo but he is doing four A Levels! His timekeeping and organisation is remarkable given everything he has to do and as an A Level department, we are very proud of his dedication and achievements outside of the classroom.”

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