Another major judo success for Gosport star Hopkins

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Oli Hawkins. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Sarah Hopkins retained her European veterans title with a strong performance in the Czech Republic.

The Gosport judo star was in dominant form after overcoming some initial nerves.

She was drawn against two Germans and a Russian in a pool of four.

They were all fighters she had not previously competed against on the international masters circuit.

But with her coach and husband Derek providing key support in Prague, Hopkins soon got into the groove and proved once again she is Europe’s masters number one.

She said: ‘I made the weight and found I was up against two Germans and a Russian in a pool of four.

‘All these players I hadn’t fought before, so I was very nervous.

‘Derek coached mat-side and we kept to the game plan.

‘My first fight against the Russian didn’t take long as I threw her for maximum points.

‘This settled the nerves and I then took on the Germans, the first of which I threw for two throws, getting maximum points and the last fight holding on to a score to win the fight.’

Hopkins, who was named The News sports woman of the year after a great 2013, was delighted to add another major trophy to her cabinet.

She is also a multiple world champion and has many Commonwealth and British crowns.

But she still cherished the moment of stepping onto the podium in Prague to hear the national anthem and be given her latest gold medal.

Hopkins added: ‘I came off relieved and pleased that all the preparation, support and encouragement from my husband/coach Derek, fitness trainer Ben Williams and Gosport players Perry and Ben English and Dom Dromey, who I have been practising with every week, paid off.

‘I felt proud to stand on the rostrum with the Union Jack flag on my judo suit, hearing the national anthem being played.’

The next target for her is to secure another victory at the sixth International Judo Federation World 
Veterans Championships in Malaga, Spain, from September 25-27.

She’s already enjoying a great 2014, having also won the London Open masters title and claimed a bronze in the seniors.

Coach Derek felt the latest win was a product of all the hours put into training, including the crucial fitness work.

He said: ‘It was a brilliant competition.

‘The two Germans had done a lot of studying up on Sarah but she was still too good for them.

‘She has trained hard over the past few months for this.’

Meanwhile, Sam Potts will be playing his part in helping the England judo squad prepare for the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

Potts will head to the training camp at Kendal Judo Club, in the Lake District from July 18-21.

He’ll be a training partner for members of the squad, ensuring they are in top shape ready for the Games.

Coach Derek Hopkins said: ‘We’re really pleased for Sam.

‘All the guys who are competing need a training partner.

‘So it will give Sam a taste of what it is like in the build-up – and these are the guys he fights and trains with regularly in the Great Britain squad.’