Hodgson hoping for home-soil boost at European Championships
When Jack Hodgson steps onto the mat for this week’s IBSA European Judo Championships in Walsall there will be an extra incentive to add another continental medal to his collection.
The 20-year-old claimed a bronze medal at the competition in Portugal in 2015 during a year that also saw him claim World Games silver and Junior World Championship gold.
But this time around the +100kg Paralympian will have his Grandma in attendance cheering him on for the first time in his career.
And, after injury hampered his chances at Rio 2016, Hodgson is eager to put on a show after a long road back from ankle ligament damage.
“My Grandma is coming to the Europeans and she never gets to watch me, in fact I’m not sure she’s ever seen me fight so that’s a real incentive to do well,” said Hodgson.
“It’s always nice to have people supporting you but when you are away that’s harder so to have support from home is going to be nice.
“Rio was a great experience for me but unfortunately, I tore ligaments in my ankle before the tournament – about five days before the competition.
“I still fought on it but I had surgery once I was back and spent the first eight months after the games recovering in a cast and doing my rehab.
“That was a tough time for me, I struggled quite a bit because I need to be doing stuff and be on the mat.
“But I feel good now and my goal is to go out there and get a medal. I got one at the last Europeans but it’s a tough category.
“I’m up there though and I think I’ve got a chance. If I have my day which I know that I can then I can get a medal.”
Hodgson won’t be the only British Paralympian in action in Walsall with Natalie Greenhough set to compete at -70kg and Chris Skelley fighting at -100kg.
The rest of the British team comprises a host of new faces with Connah Anders (-66kg), Evan Molloy (-73kg), Elliot Stewart (90kg) and Connor Murphy (+100kg) all set for action.
For Skelley though it is a chance to get back among the medals after narrowly missing out on a podium place in Brazil but he also believes the competition will showcase Britain as one of the best judo nations in the world.
“Rio was an incredible time and a great experience and it is a shame I couldn’t get a medal but I have to keep moving forward towards Tokyo now.
“Hopefully before then there will be a few medals and I can be in a good position in the future and help make British Judo the best team out there.
“The Europeans is a great place to start and we have a good team with a lot of very strong players so we are in good shape.
“I’d love to get a medal. I got a bronze medal last time so I’d love to go one better hopefully and see my improvements.
“We are going in the right direction so hopefully we can see the improvements in action and I can put on a good performance.”