Saturday 17 November 2018

'I'm over the moon' - judo champ grandad Jack (71) wins gold on world stage

Veteran champ Jack Dennis
Veteran champ Jack Dennis

Ian Begley

A 71-year-old grandad from Dublin has proved that the elderly are not to be messed with after winning gold in the World Judo Championships in Mexico.

Veteran champ Jack Dennis received a hero's welcome in his home town of Lusk this week for his monumental achievement in Cancun.

The Dubliner, who runs Lusk Judo Kan, defeated four judo masters in the men's 70-74 90kg category, including 1972 British Olympian Terence Watt.

However, Mr Dennis is no stranger to winning awards.

In fact, he has travelled all around the world slamming opponents to the ground in exchange for medals.

"It was very tough, but I knew I was physically and mentally prepared for the challenge," he told the Herald.

"I'm over the moon with my win and I can't thank my family and friends enough for their support.

"I also entered the European Veterans competition over in Glasgow this summer and I brought home a gold medal then too, so it's been a very good year."

The local hero, who has seven children and 14 grandkids, says they're all involved in judo in one way or another.

"I first got into the martial art when I was 18, after coming from a very boxing-orientated family," he said.

"I fell in love with judo from the moment I started and have been hooked ever since.

"Most of my family are now heavily involved and are a great support network for one another. Although my wife doesn't do judo, she kindly washes all our suits. We even had to buy a second washing machine when the kids were younger."

He added that age should never be a barrier when it comes to sport and getting in shape.

"A lot of people my age can't move very fast and are on tablets for all sorts of things," he said.

"I'm happy to say that, because of judo, my body is in good shape and I still feel great.

"It's a shame that so many older people give up sport at an early age because the benefits are enormous.

"I do judo with many young people, which also keeps me young at heart.

"I would encourage anyone, no matter what their age is, to take up a sport and get active.

"You can go at your own pace and don't have to be competitive to get involved."

However, for Judo Jack, his competition days are far from over with more medals likely to be on the horizon.

More than 1,000 veteran judoka made the trip to Cancun last week to compete in the sport's premier competition for experts aged 30 and above.

Herald

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