Garioch Judo’s Stuart McWatt this week took the first tentative steps in a potential Judo career with a move to train full time at the British Judo Centre of Excellence.
The 17 year old from Inverurie whose father Stuart McWatt (Senior) operates several Garioch Judo clubs throughout the North East has taken the opportunity to further his career following a number of successes in 2014.
Centrally situated in the Midlands at the University of Wolverhampton, Walsall Campus, the Centre provides full-time athletes with a world-class performance environment including a state-of-the-art dojo, strength and conditioning, sports science, sports medicine, educational opportunities and accommodation all on one site.
At the heart of the centre is a new dedicated purpose-built dojo, where a performance team of world-class coaches and support staff with experience at the highest level deliver individual periodised training programmes to Great Britain’s most talented junior, transition and senior athletes. Strength and conditioning, integrated with the judo programme and sports science/sports medicine support ensures that the athlete’s all-round needs are met, whilst a strong network of local clubs ensure that athletes in the centre have access to quality randori on a daily basis.
Alongside a full-time judo programme, the centre offers a range of optional educational pathways from 16 years, including the British Judo Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence and numerous degree courses. The centre houses two Olympic size 10m x 10m contest areas, the sprung floor dojo contains a state-of-the-art and fully interactive performance analysis system providing instant feedback on the dojos.
The facility also contains dedicated sports massage and physiotherapy rooms with further sports science laboratories located adjacent to the dojo.
Last year was an exceptional year for Stuart who has been Scottish Champion five times and won his fourth British title and a bronze medal in the Senior event. As a result the former Inverurie Academy pupil will be part of both the Junior and Senior GB teams in 2015 although at 17 its perhaps unlikely he will represent GB at Senior level.
As Stuart has transitioned from Cadet to Juniors, ( under 18s to Under 21s), his European credentials have also been on the rise winning Gold at Cadet level in the European Cup in Croatia followed by a Bronze in Portugal before grabbing fifth at the junior European Cup in Spain. He also took a fifth place in Poland and his targets for 2015 are to medal at some Junior European Cups and qualify for the Junior European/World events.
Stuart will be given his six month training schedule during January and is planning to be in Walsall for the foreseeable future and hopes to continue to represent GB which he has done twice at the Europeans and also at the Youth Olympics.
Last years Commonwealth Games in Glasgow also had an Achieve 2014 programme which saw Stuart as one of 90 young athletes whom were able to soak up the atmosphere and mingle with athletes and coaches of various sports and disciplines with the hope that they will be inspired to follow in their footsteps.
Stuart said before leaving, “I’m really looking forward to the chance to train full time although its not like I’m a professional athlete, more like a student of Judo. I couldn’t do this without the support of my family and I’m determined to do my best for them as much as myself.
“Ideally I’d love to have some sponsorship as my funding only covers my accommodation and training but its perhaps a sport which doesn’t attract many sponsors.
“Judo is pretty much my life already and now that my Highers are over I can focus on my sport and hopefully move ahead in the sport” .
Stuarts Dad said, “I suspect the move to the Centre of Excellence might be harder for me than it will be for my son as we train and travel together almost every day, so he will be a big miss for me. He definitely needs to take this opportunity to see how far he can progress in the sport and I think everyone at Garioch Judo can be proud of what he has achieved so far and we are all hoping he can make it to the top of the sport. As well as a great opportunity its also a major commitment for him and the family and we hope he succeeds in achieving his goals along the way.”