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Willesden's perfect ten

PUBLISHED: 14:55 26 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:14 24 August 2010

Leigh Davies (right) with some of the youngsters earmarked for stardom

Leigh Davies (right) with some of the youngsters earmarked for stardom

By Ben Kosky TEN Olympic hopefuls from Willesden Judo Club have been selected for the first ever full-time 2012 training programme in this country. The Willesden youngsters will make up the first elite group to receive specialist coaching at the new purpo

By Ben Kosky

TEN Olympic hopefuls from Willesden Judo Club have been selected for the first ever full-time 2012 training programme in this country.

The Willesden youngsters will make up the first elite group to receive specialist coaching at the new purpose-built British Judo Performance Institute in Dartford from next month.

That means that all 10 - JR Badrick, Ashley McKenzie, Theo Spalding-McIntosh, Shane Davin, Lee Shinkin, Jerome Robinson-Reid, Jermaine McIntosh, William Henry, Colleen Kerr and Tom Davis - are firmly in the frame to represent Great Britain in four years' time.

Former Olympic silver medallist Kate Howey will take some coaching sessions at the £5m centre, which will include a high performance gym and rehab area and sports science facilities.

Willesden coach Leigh Davies was delighted by the news that his players had been invited to join the programme, saying: "I think all their eggs are going into one basket - and that's ours.

"The problem is that, in this country, we seem to collect a good group of players together, shove them into a hut or church hall and expect them to do the business.

"In my opinion, you need different people to train with - you can't train with your best mate forever and the association seem to have decided this is the way forward.

"The best prospects in the country will be asked to come along and learn from the top professionals - and it's fantastic that they've decided to kick off with 10 of our players.

"The key is that they go over to Dartford for daytime sessions, then they come back in the evening and do their normal stuff at Willesden.

"Seven out of 14 in the 2012 squad, that's what I'm aiming for, and I think it's perfectly possible."

Judo is a sport that seems to benefit from the hosting of an Olympic Games - Greece gained their first champion in Athens 2004 and the British Judo Association are anxious to shine when the Games come to London.

The new centre is designed to replicate the French facility in Paris and its first training programme runs from April 8 until the Junior World Championships, which take place in Bangkok in October.

Willesden's Theo Spalding-McIntosh, who was Britain's only medallist in the 2007 Junior Worlds, is hoping to secure a place at this year's event by qualifying through the prestigious Bremen tournament this weekend.

Badrick, McKenzie, Davin, Shinkin and Robinson-Reid are also in action in Bremen.

But McIntosh has been ruled out by a knee injury and the other three members of the group are over the age limit for the tournament.

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