Eric dreams of Olympic glory
Friday 11th April 2014 18:18 Sports Posted by Lisa B

Glossop judoka Eric Ham insists he is a year older, wiser and bigger as he plots a return to the European Cadet Championships and an assault on the podium in Greece.

The 16-year-old from Hadfield reached the second round of the -55kg category at last year’s European Cadet Championships in Estonia, however much has changed in the nine months since.

Ham, a member of Glossop Judo Club, has moved up to the -66kg category and to the older end of the field and is seeking to improve on his performances in Tallinn this summer.

The 2014 European Cadet Championships will take place in Athens in July and Ham (pictured above) is adamant everything he has done over the past nine months suggests success is a genuine possibility.

“Last year I got selected for the European Championships and I loved it and hopefully I can get selected for this year’s Europeans,” said Ham.

“I was a first-year cadet last year, so I won one fight and lost one, but I am hoping to better that this year and get on the podium as I am a top-year cadet now.

“I fight in the -66kg division and I was only -55kg last year too. I have had a big growth spurt and hopefully I can improve on last year.

“I am top of the European ranking list so I am pretty much nailed on to get selected which is good as I can’t be caught.”

Ham’s move up to the -66kg category has brought with it success already, he won silver at the British Junior Championships in Sheffield before Christmas.

Determined to progress all the way from promising junior to talented senior, Ham admits the two medals won by Britain at the London 2012 Olympics are a source of inspiration.

“I got silver at the British Championships, being second youngest in the group and hopefully I can do better than that later this year as well,” he added. “My all-time goal is to reach the Olympics, hopefully Tokyo in 2020 or even 2024.”

Meanwhile, it has been an action-packed few weeks for the young Judo star.

Still with another year to go in his Cadet (under-16) age band, Eric competed in three tough Junior (Under 21) competitions.

First up was an impressive performance at the English Junior Open against Britain’s finest Junior fighters.

As the second youngest in the group, Eric won all his contests in style, before beating the country’s number one ranked player in the final.

Last weekend Eric travelled over to Belfast winning all of his fights with maximum scores to add the Northern Ireland Junior title to his growing domestic collection.

OLYMPIC DREAMS: Eric Ham

OLYMPIC DREAMS: Eric Ham

In between these two competitions, was the European Cup event in Portugal. This saw Eric find his best Judo to date defeating five of Europe’s finest Junior fighters, only losing to the eventual winner from Canada by the smallest possible margin. Eric was the only one of the five cadet fighters to return home with a medal.

These results have seen Eric shoot up to Number One on the British Junior Ranking List, as well as securing his second dan Black Belt. Eric has new returned to training at the British Judo Centre of Excellence in Walsall.

l SSE are partnering with SportsAid to support the sporting stars of the future as part of their commitment to Glasgow 2014 and beyond with their SSE Next Generation ambassador programme.

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