Owen Livesey caps remarkable return to judo with British Championship gold

OWEN Livesey capped a remarkable return to elite level judo by winning the British championship in Sheffield at the weekend.

The 22-year-old SKK fighter followed up an impressive silver medal at last month’s European Cup in Malaga by taking gold in the -81kg category.

It made for a nice double for the Livesey family with his younger sister Bekky taking gold in the juniors category and silver in the seniors.

Livesey said: “Having won the silver in Spain last month, I knew I had a decent chance in the British. I battled my way through the pools and got to final pool. Because I lost one fight in that final pool I had to beat my last opponent by a big score, which I did.”

The gold marks a triumphant return to the sport for the former Saints junior from Haresfinch after 18 months out of action when he walked away from the sport vowing never to return.

Two years ago Livesey was on top of his game, a full time player with the sport’s elite down based at Dartford and battling to get an Olympic place.

However, he was overlooked for selection for the 2012 London Olympics which saw left Livesey totally demoralised and in need of a break.

Livesey said: “I came straight back home to St Helens and had no intention of doing judo again.”

He sought solace in rugby league, having a run with the Widnes academy. Although his fitness and attitude impressed Vikings boss Denis Betts the view shared by all parties was that he had been too long out of the game to make a fist of it at pro level.

Livesey said: “I enjoyed being back in rugby and I loved being back up at Pilkington Recs but last May, two weeks before the British open, we lost to Blackbrook and I was so fed up. It gave me the spur I needed to get back to judo and went down to that British open and finished fifth.

“The break did me good – and although it is great to see my sisters Amy and Bekky doing well that had no influence on me returning. It was purely thinking that this is a sport I had put so much into from a young age and not doing it would have been such a waste.”

Now full time in Camberley means a lot of hard graft for Livesey. With judo now a self-funded sport it means he has to work to pay for tournaments. But with an eye on the Rio Olympics in 2016 it is a sacrifice he is prepared to make.

“I self fund for European Cups, so I work in security at weekend and save that money up for tournaments.

“Having that European Cup medal from Malaga now allows me to compete in World Cups. If you get a World Cup medal then that puts you on the World rankings to try and qualify for the Olympics, which is my goal,” he said.

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