The 16th edition of the Commonwealth Judo Association’s annual showpiece event started with the visually impaired competition with runaway winners India in action along with England, Wales, Scotland and South Africa.
Scotland, Wales and England struck gold but could not keep up with India
Jana Gana Mana, the Indian national anthem, rang out 19 times at the University of Wolverhampton Sports Centre in Walsall as only one member of their sizable team failed to win a medal.
Indian team official Aaesha Munawar spoke about their staggering success and explained the system for VI judo in her country.
“We wanted to show our competitors that they have so much to offer the world and that they have important roles in our society.
“Having a disability in India is difficult, you are frowned upon, and we want to challenge this.
“Through judo we can empower them and give them the skills and character for a better, more fulfilling life and to hopefully change perceptions in our country and around the world.”
VI judo in India is managed by the Indian Blind and Para Judo Association which was founded in 2010.
“We rely on sponsors, partners and donations to send our athletes to competitions,” revealed Aaesha who was on hand to aid her judoka onto the medal podium at every awarding ceremony.
“Sometimes we beg and we borrow, but we believe in our cause and our judoka. With no government support it’s challenging but we’ll never stop.
“We’re here to help these children make their parents proud and to improve their own self esteem and we’re witnessing that.
"We had over 700 judoka at our last VI national championships and we picked the best medallists from this event for Walsall.
“I’ve seen an improvement in the level of our athletes in recent years and we hope to have at least two men and two women competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. We’re working hard for this and we hope they can qualify and realise their dreams.”
14-year-old wins senior Commonwealth title for Wales
Welsh youngster Deryn Allen-Dyer produced her country’s best result on day one as she won both contests against India’s Muthulakshmi Murugan to claim the F2 -57kg gold medal.
Deryn, 14, of O'Oshimeyo Judo Club in Merthyr Tydfil is well-known on the British circuit after winning numerous awards for her charity work including being awarded the British Judo Association Volunteer of the Year title in 2017 and 2018.
“There are no words to describe how I’m feeling,” said the Diana Award recipient.
“I didn’t know I was fighting against a senior judoka, my mum told me after I’d won and I was shocked.
“I’m really happy to win gold for Wales,” added the passionate teenager who sang the Land of My Fathers with conviction.
The VI prospect is already being monitored by the British Judo Performance setup and has big ambitions.
“I’m thinking about the Paralympic Games, it’s my dream to compete there and I hope I can do it in 2024 in Paris and 2028 in Los Angeles.”
The competition continues on Thursday with the junior and senior events.
Watch day two live on the British Judo YouTube Channel
Pictures by Mike Varey, BJA