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Not since 1996 has the New Zealand Judo Senior Open Weight Champion Cup been in Wanganui but the cup is now back with Wanganui heavy weight judoka Keightley Watson winning the New Zealand Seniors Men’s Open Weight Title over the weekend. Coincidently the only other Wanganui judoka to win the cup was his uncle, Wayne Watson, who won it 8 times during his career.
After arriving back on Wednesday from Nassau, The Bahamas, where the heavyweight competed at the Junior Worlds Judo Championships he had a quick turn around to head to Christchurch on Friday for the New Zealand National Judo Championships. His thoughts were firmly fixed on what he wanted to achieve and that was to finish the New Zealand judo year on a high. He had one chance to do this of fighting in the categories of Cadets, Juniors and Seniors as this was his last year in Cadets.
Competing over 2 days the Saturday competition saw Watson fighting in the Junior Men (18-21) +100kg and then the Junior Men Open, both of which he won the Gold. Then in the afternoon session he competed in the Senior Men (21 years plus) +100kg for the first time where again he won Gold which was followed up with him taking out the prestigious New Zealand Open Weight Champion title giving the teenager the first part of his target he had set on day 1 with 4th Golds. Following day ones fighting Watson also competed in a Batsugun competition where he gained his second dan Black belt. He was the only one of the 11 entered to obtain the grading making for a successful day.
Back on the mat for the Sunday’s events where he completed his full house of titles and making New Zealand Judo history by winning Gold in both the cadet men +81kg & the Cadet Open title being the only Judoka to date to take all 6 titles in a New Zealand National Championships and completing his mission for the weekend. This has topped off a busy year for the glob trotting judoka which has seen him fighting and training in several different continents throughout the year since Christmas 2017. That experience of the overseas training and level of competition overseas has certainly paid dividends for him in the New Zealand National Championships father Ross Watson said.
This is the third year running that Watson has won the Cadets +81kg, Cadets Open, Junior Men +100kg & Junior Men Open, so a massive feat to also now have the both the Senior titles at just 17 years old.
Now the focus shifts to the Perth Oceania Open & Oceania Junior Cup in Perth in 2 weeks’ time where he will compete for NZ in the Junior Men & Senior Men divisions. He then heads back to The Netherlands in January 2019 for further training under his mentor & coach Grim Vuijsters and where he will compete in The Matsuru Dutch Open Espoir in Junior Men, then travel through to Belgium for the Belgium Open .