Stockport judoka shrugs off weight category change to bag junior European and World Championships call up

Having had to contend with a change in weight category earlier this summer, Stockport judoka Eric Ham has his eyes on a successful end to 2015.

Earlier this year Ham made the decision to move up from fighting in the under-66kg category to contesting the under-73kg group – a step up that resulted in bigger and stronger opponents.

His first junior European Cup appearance at the new weight came in Paks, Hungary, in July where he lost in his second fight, although a week later Ham was on the podium after winning bronze in Poland.

Another bronze would also be forthcoming in Romania in August while his performances saw him rewarded with a place on the Great Britain team for the Junior European Championships in Austria earlier this month.

And while he was unable to add another podium finish to his name, the blow was softened somewhat for the 18-year-old as he was subsequently picked for the Junior World Championships in Abu Dhabi from October 23-25.

“Making the Junior World Championships was one of my targets at the start of the year but I got moved up a category so I was not expecting to get selected,” said Ham, who attends Hillcrest Grammar School.

“I was at under 66kg and I’ve gone to under 73kg.  It’s quite a bit of a jump as my opponents are obviously bigger and stronger. So I’ve had to overcome that.

“So to get selected for the junior European and World Championships is really great.

“At the Europeans I was up against the number two seed so that was tough but I felt I fought fairly well.

“With the Worlds, as it will be my first year I’m not expecting to win but hopefully I can do a good job.

“I’m just going to be working hard on my technical improvements between now and then.”

Before the Junior World Championships arrive, however, Ham will also be focusing his efforts on putting in a good performance in his first senior international competition.

It comes after the news this week that he was selected for the Great Britain team for the European Open in Glasgow on October 10 – something the young judoka is relishing.

“I’ve also been selected for the senior team for Glasgow. That will be my first senior fight at international level, it’s really exciting,” he added.

“For me, it’s all about next year and making sure I’m in the best possible shape to do well in my final year as a junior. That’s my aim between now and the end of the year.

“But I’ll be trying to enjoy the competition in Glasgow as much as I can.”

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