Hard work paying off as Ben Fletcher heads to Judo World Championships on career high

31 August 2017

Team Bath judoka Ben Fletcher is aiming to finish his “best season so far” on a high note when he represents Great Britain at the World Senior Championships in Budapest, Hungary this weekend.

The Rio 2016 Olympian, an ambassador for Team Bath partners MJ Church, goes into the -100kg competition with a career-high world ranking of 18 after winning three international medals during 2017.

His silver at the Cancun Grand Prix in Mexico was Fletcher’s best-ever result at that level, while his big-name scalps during the past 12 months include Olympic silver-medallist Elmar Gasimov in the bronze-medal bout at last month’s European Open in Minsk, Belarus.

“Ultimately I want to be at the very top and I’m edging closer and closer all the time, I have no doubt about that,” said Fletcher, who is coached by Juergen Klinger at the University of Bath Sports Training Village.

“After the Olympics you can sometimes relax but I feel I have kicked on this year. I’m up to 18th in the world and I’m beating more and more top-level people, so overall it’s probably been my best season so far.

Ben Fletcher celebrates his European Open Minsk bronze medal with coach Juergen Klinger, July 2017
Ben Fletcher with coach Juergen Klinger

“I’m 25 now and as a heavyweight you tend to reach your peak in your late 20s, early 30s so I am getting to the age where I should be doing well. Things are coming together but that is down to all the hard work that my team and I have been putting in.”

Fletcher has trained at Team Bath for the past eight years and, having chosen not to relocate to British Judo’s Centre of Excellence in the West Midlands, is self-funded with support from MJ Church, Specialist Cutting Services in his hometown of Wokingham, Judo School and Fighting Films.

“It can be difficult when you leave the centralised system but the support I have from family, friends, sponsors and Team Bath means I have been able to kick on,” he said.

“The progress I’ve made is down to my work ethic and the really good people I have around me.

“I haven’t really got a target for the World Championships. I’d consider it a success if I finish in the top eight but I won’t be seeded so it’s all down to the luck of the draw.

“I know I can beat the best players in the world, I have proven that, but doing it repeatedly on one day is difficult. I’m going to give it everything.”

Fellow Team Bath judoka Emmanuel Nartey, a London 2012 Olympian with Ghana, also qualified for the World Championships but suffered a first-round defeat to Armenia’s Ferdinand Karapetian in the -73kg competition on Monday.

Click here for more information about the judo programme at the University of Bath.

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