Teenage Whanganui judo sensation Keightley Watson has taken a reluctant four to six week break from training through injury that was forced his withdrawal from the Oceania Championships in New Caledonia.
The 16-year-old Whanganui High School student has just returned from training at the Judo Academy Netherlands under Dutch heavyweight Grim Vuijsters, a fourth dan black belt.
Vuijsters has won nine World Cup medals and is one of the few judokas in the world to defeat 10-time world heavyweight and two-time Olympic champion Teddy Riner of France.
While competing two weeks back in The Bremen Master Open in Germany, Watson had a first-up win but took a knock to his fibula bone forcing his retirement from the competition.
Since returning home last week, doctors have confirmed a fracture of his left leg fibula.
"They say it will take four to six weeks to heal, so I will unfortunately miss the Oceania in New Caledonia this weekend," Watson said.
"It is great to be home though and I'm still doing weights in the gym and gently testing my leg each day to help get ready for the Chinese Open in mid-July. The first leg will be in Hong Kong before a three-day training camp, then the second leg in Macau followed by another three-day camp."
Watson is in the New Zealand team competing in the junior men 100kg+ and cadet 90kg+ classes.
"I've thoroughly enjoyed my time in Holland, in fact, I've loved it. I live in a house fully fitted with a gym and kitchen within the campus and every day I'm training with at least 40 other black belts. The culture and level of skill is so much higher than I could ever hope for here or even Australia," Watson said.
Weighing in at 138kg for his last fight, Watson in ranked fifth in the world for under-21 heavyweights and was the second youngest Kiwi ever to be awarded a black belt last year.
"Missing Oceania means it will affect my seeding in (immediate) future competition, so means I may be required to fight more during pool play, but I'm not losing any sleep that. My focus now is getting in shape for China and then possibly the junior worlds in October.
"They are not holding the cadet worlds because of the Youth Olympics where they don't have heavyweight divisions, so I'll have to wait until the world juniors.
"The aim is to get back to Holland where I've made life-long friends and have the best training environment available."
Watson's Dutch experience and global travel for competition is currently family funded by parents Ross and Barbara Watson who have faith he will day be top of the heap on the world or even Olympic stage.
"While he is still training in Holland, New Zealand will still need him for specific competitions, so he will return for those, but otherwise he will be in the Netherlands - probably in three-month stints," Ross Watson said.