Rugby may be Lesen Huiarangi's sport of choice but his judo skills and talent are undeniable.

The Katikati College student is a natural athlete who is no stranger to achieving in a range of sports codes - his latest while representing the Tauranga Judo Club at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Judo Tournament where he won a gold medal in the U81kg category.

Tournament host and Tauranga Judo Club president Blair Winders said the competition, at Aquinas College Action Centre last Sunday, was one of the main events of the year for school-aged competitors.

Winders said to win gold was a massive achievement.


"[Lesen's] a regular medalist in the Auckland international tournaments," he said.

Other Tauranga Judo Club fighters to have scooped placings in the competition included Kenta Beech from Otumoetai College, taking bronze in the U60kg category and John Paul College's Nicole Williams who won silver in the U52kg section.

The Intermediate School Age Championships were also held as part of the tournament with Tauranga's Suho Jung taking home gold in the U45kg division.

Lesen, 15, who was introduced to judo by his younger brother, said he was pleased to have been able to secure the gold.

Lesen said he would be looking to do the same at his internationals tournament in about two months time.

At last year's internationals, Lesen took home silver in the U81 section, and plans to redeem it by bringing home gold this year.

"Hopefully I can," he said.

Lesen, who said the fighting part of judo was what he enjoyed most, admitted rugby was his number one sport having made representative teams in the code.


The teenager said he would love to become an All Black one day.

Winders said the Tauranga tournament included a social section with 98 participants, 34 competitors in the intermediate competition and 65 athletes in the secondary section.

Sixteen came from the Tauranga Judo Club.

"It was a very long day. We had a lot of fights to get through."

He said the tournament was more than athletes battling each other.

"It's important to understand what the physical contact is all about. Judo is a form of self defence and we have to shift our body weight ... evade a throw. It's more a balance and co-ordination awareness," Winders said.

He said school-aged competitions were vital to ensure strength in the future of judo.

Winders said it allowed the younger athletes to gain a better understanding of the sport and of competition so they could progress to where they want to be in judo.

"It's where all the breeding is in the sport," Winders said.

"It's a lot different fighting or competing in your club than it is outside of your club. To improve your judo is by competition."