JUDO fighters from St Helens stood on the podium’s top step after winning gold at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Owen Livesey completed a fairytale return to the sport after defeating England teammate Tom Reed in the men’s -81kg final on Friday.
Billinge-born Chris Sherrington, representing Scotland, then matched that feat in the men’s heavyweight 100kg+ category the following day.
“I think leaving the sport made me realise I didn’t want to do anything else,” said Livesey, a one-time Saints junior and Pilkinton Recs amateur from Haresfinch.
“This is the highlight of my career by far. I’ve won World Cup medals, but nothing like this.”
He quit the sport for 18 months after not being selected for the Olympic Games in London two years ago.
After taking gold in the British Championships -81kg category last December, Livesey then picked up two silver medals for Great Britain during tournaments in Uruguay and Argentina to qualify for the Commonwealth Games.
The self-funded former SKK fighter admitted that the build-up to the Games, which had included training camps in Belarus and Barcelona, had been different to anything he had experienced previously.
“It was a relief more than anything after spending the last couple of months preparing for it. There was a lot of pressure coming into it and there had been a lot more media focus than I was used to.
“But it was amazing. I had never witnessed anything like that, it was the best atmosphere I have ever fought in and it was a sell-out crowd.”
He came through three fights to reach the final, overcoming the challenges of Kenyan John Kirimi, Zambian Boas Munyonga and Canadian Johan Burt in the semi-finals.
Livesey, whose training base is in Camberley, then edged out Team Bath fighter Reed to take the gold medal.
Sherrington, representing his country of residence, took Scotland’s sixth gold medal of the Games after beating South African Ruan Snyman in Saturday’s final.
In a dominant performance, the 30-year-old Royal Marine threw his opponent for two waza-ari scores and become the second fighter born in the town to claim gold in the competition.
“It was absolutely fantastic standing on the podium, that was one of the highlights,” Sherrington told the Star.
“There were some armed forces personnel there to see me, while my parents were watching back in St Helens.
He made it through to the final after beating Northern Ireland’s Gavin McNeill and then New Zealander Sam Rosser in the semi-final to set up a showdown meeting with Snyman.
And the victory makes amends for the disappointment of two years ago when Sherrington, representing Great Britain in London, was pipped in the second round by Alexander Mikhaylin in a contest that went to a Golden Score.
“The final was tough and he was a young lad who probably has more talent than I did at his age. It was a fantastic fight and I finished it cleanly,” said Sherrington, who lives in West Lothian with wife Zoe.
“It was just absolutely spectacular and a great way to end the day, especially as it’s so close to where I live.”