Teenage Whanganui heavyweight judoka Keightley Watson has started the year with a flourish winning bronze in the 43rd Matsuru Dutch Espior Judo Open in Eindhoven, the Netherlands at the weekend.
No longer eligible for cadet grade, the 17-year-old was fighting in the Junior Men's under-21 and plus 100kg category where he tied for third.
This was Watson's first competition of 2019. The Matsuru 43rd Dutch open Espoir tournament was again limited to around 1800 judokas fighting on 12 mats over two days with most European countries represented along with the USA and Israel this year.
This is the second year he has entered this competition. Last year he won gold in the cadets plus 90kg category.
Watson flew out of New Zealand on New Year's Eve back to Tijvoorstebaan, Goirle in the Netherlands for another six week block of training in preparation for what looks to be an even busier year competing on the international judo scene.
The Matsuru Dutch Open has proven to be a good way of starting his season with the level of competition stronger than what he would get otherwise along with six days a week training at the Jan De Rooys Sports Centrum and Judo academy under Grim Vuijsters, his Dutch coach.
"He also gets the opportunity to train weekly at the Eindhoven regional training centre and at Papendal alongside some of the Dutch National team," father Ross Watson said.
"The difference of competing at this level and winning a gold, silver, bronze or no medal is a very fine line. It only takes a split second for a wrong move or wrong decision to allow your opponent to take advantage and use it against you.
"I think he would have learned a bit more from this tournament," Watson senior said.
"Keightley is hoping to compete in two week's time in the Belgium International Open in the seniors before heading back to Canberra, Australia mid-February to compete in the ACT International Open then on to Sydney the following weekend for the Sydney International Open."