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HMAC come back from jiu-jitsu European Championships with plenty of medals and memories

By Andrew Henderson

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Highland Martial Arts Centre’s squad that went down to the jiu-jistu European Championships in England came home with 17 medals – four gold, two silver and 11 bronze.

Three of the club’s youngsters were crowned European champion, with Effie Maclennan becoming a double champion in gi and no gi, Fraser Mackay taking gold in no gi and Archie Thompson doing the same while also claiming the fastest submission of the tournament in seven seconds.

Toby Haworth was responsible for both silver medals, while each of the five other athletes also contributed to the haul.

Max Dawson, Daisy Mackay and Leighton Andrew all won double bronze, as did HMAC’s youngest ever medalist Grace Mackenzie, while Rosie Davies topped it off with a no gi bronze.

It is a supremely impressive collection for a squad that have only been training for two years under coach Aiden Mackenzie, who can now look towards next year’s World Championships, but that is not even what he is most proud of.

HMAC took a squad to the European Championships and came back with 17 medals.
HMAC took a squad to the European Championships and came back with 17 medals.

Instead, what pleased Mackenzie most was the cameraderie within the group.

The medal total exceeded all expectations, but Mackenzie really wanted to learn from it all.

“It’s not necessarily the wins, but it’s the lessons learned,” Mackenzie explained.

“The resilience shown by every one of these kids was absolutely amazing.

“There were times that us as parents and coaches would turn around and find them all in a huddle – six-year-olds all the way up to 15-year-olds – instigated by themselves, to support and rally around each other.

“If one person had a loss, everybody was there to raise them up, and if someone had a victory everybody was there to share in the cheer. It was absolutely phenomenal, really, really good.

“I guess that was my job as the coach to make them realise that it didn’t matter about the winning and that the really important thing was making the memories.

“In 10 or 20 years time, these kids are not going to remember who they faced on the mat. They’re going to remember the long bus journey down, the meal out at night time that was full of hilarity, the extra time spent with their parents.

“That’s what people are going to remember, and that’s what the weekend was really about.

“The winning and medals and all the rest of it, that was just the icing on the cake really. That was a bonus.”

Mackenzie would like to thank the sponsors who made it possible for the HMAC squad to compete at the European Championships: Dicksons of Inverness, MacNeil Coaches, The Stoltman Foudation, BlacBridge Furnishing, ShowRoom Plus, Waterside Auto Services, ECU unit tuning, Great Glen Pharmacy and Creative Sign and Print LTD.

He would also like to give a special thanks to Steve Thompson, and his assistant coaches Phil Haworth and Moby Davies.

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