A Gorebridge judo exponent admits he sometimes has to pinch himself after a remarkable return to the sport.
Mark Taylor’s promising judo career – including a Commonwealth Senior Bronze aged 17 – was curtailed by injury which eventually forced him to give up the sport.
However, after a break of two decades, the 42-year-old residential care manager for Glasgow City Council, is enjoying a renaissance of sorts.
Since 2016 the judoka’s return has yielded success winning the British Open Masters, Scottish Open Masters, Germany Saxony Masters and a silver in France.
Mark also competed in the Veterans European Championships in Zagreb in March and despite being knocked out in the second round, his performance led to him receiving an invite to compete for the German number one team in the German Saxony Masters. He helped the German team to the final only for them to be beaten by a Russian side but he earned a European silver medal.
He said: “It’s been overhwelming to be honest. When I first came back to judo it was just about the enjoyment, rekindling old friendships and making new ones.
“It has ignited my passion for judo again and that spurred me on to big things. Sometimes I have to pinch myself, it’s been a bit of whirlwind.”
Mark’s latest competition was the World’s Veterans in Sardinia where he topped his ninth-placed finish last year by finishing seventh and he has more success set in his sights in 2018.
He starts off with the Scottish Masters and then will compete in France in January to try and improve on his silver last year.
The European Veterans are in June which is being hosted by JudoScotland and the British Judo Association at the Emirates Stadium in Glasgow.
He said: “The result at the World Veterans has given me so much confidence heading into next year’s events particularly the European Championships which will be held on home soil.
“A lot of people will be attending because they won’t have to travel far. That brings with it a different type of pressure but you draw on inspiration from the crowd. I do get nerves when competing but that’s what makes it exciting.”
Aside from his own Judo and promoting Masters Judo, Mark is keen to make a return to coaching having coached in his late teens and early 20s both at home and for a period in Hong Kong.
Mark will be opening a new Judo Club in Midlothian in 2018 called Randori Judo in Gorebridge Parish Church on Tuesdays after school and on a Friday after school in the Wellbeing lab@Restoration Yard in Dalkeith Country Park.
With links established with primary schools Randori Judo will be offering Taster and Introductory sessions in the Gorebridge area and Taster sessions are on Saturdays throughout January in Dalkeith Country Park. Initially classes will be for schools pupils but Mark hopes to offer youth and senior classes down the line.
Asked how coaching compares to competing, he said: “I think they’re different but there is a crossover, you have to keep up date with what is current to try to make yourself successful when competing.
“As for coaching there are more traditional skills taught which you might end up never using. It’s nice to give something back to the sport, if the pupils get something out of it then it gives me such a great satisfaction.”
For further info visit www.RandoriJudo.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.