Potts of gold as Sam wins English Open senior title

Sam Potts. Picture: David Brawn
Sam Potts. Picture: David Brawn
The League Two trophy. Picture: Joe Pepler

League Two trophy on display to Pompey fans

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Sam Potts earned his first English Open title at senior level after seeing off some tough competition in Norfolk.

It was a real confidence booster to take the gold with many quality competitors lining up to do battle at under-90kg.

The Gosport Judo Club member is targeting the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and hopes this victory will help him catch the eye of the Great Britain selectors when they look at the squad for the next Olympic cycle.

He said: ‘It was a good day. This is my first senior England Open title so it ranks pretty highly for me.

‘The gold medal shows I’m going in the right direction.

‘After the Rio Olympics this summer they will be looking at who is in contention for the next Olympics and I don’t see why I can’t be one of those.

‘Before the competition some of the coaches were commenting on the quality of my weight group for the English Open.

‘They felt up to five of us could be good enough to win it.

‘So it was a high standard and I’m pleased to win.’

Potts, who trains in Bath, beat London’s Adam Hoshal in the final after a difficult start to the contest.

A short break when the referee briefly stopped the fight helped Potts to regain his focus and he managed to win by ippon – the maximum score in judo.

‘There was a long break between the semi-finals and the final,’ said Potts.

‘I don’t like that because you have to get out of your zone and then back into the zone.

‘He caught me on the back foot to start with.

‘It’s hard to come back from that but when the referee stopped it for 20 seconds I got my head together, then I threw him straight away for ippon.’

Overall it was an excellent win for Potts who had some big tests throughout the competition.

He added: ‘I won my first fight by ippon.

‘The throw was something I have been working on in training for ages and ages and it was the first time I had done it in a match – I was pleased it finally came off.

‘Early on in my second fight my opponent turned in for a throw and I countered it.

‘They gave me waza-ari, the second highest score, but the judges watched it back and ruled it was ippon so they stopped the fight.

‘I was happy with that because I thought it was ippon at the time.’

In a tough semi-final, Potts had to put friendship to one side to beat Max Stewart.

He said: ‘I’ve been friends with Max for years and years.

‘It went the whole distance and I won on penalties. We were both attacking but it was very tactical.

‘There were no hard feelings at the end, you are mates again when you come off the mat.’