Coach Brian’s high hopes for Team GB’s Sophie Cox

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BURNLEY’S Brian Moore, a Judo mentor at Bacup Judo Club, has a particularly strong interest in the upcoming Olympic Games in London.

Brian has trained Team GB judoka Sophie Cox from the age of eight to where she is today, an outside favourite for an Olympic gold in her weight category.

From a very young age it was evident that Rochdalian Sophie had talent, as she became a black belt in Judo when she was 15 and then became British judo champion in the following year.

Over a decade on from her youth successes, the mentor and student bond between Brian and Sophie grew particularly strong, as would be expected.

Despite Cox retiring from the sport to take up a teaching role in Thailand after the 2004 Athens Olympics, the two remained in contact and were reunited once more when the 30-year-old athlete made a comeback to judo in 2010, with the aim of reaching the next Olympics in London.

Although Cox missed the trials to get into Team GB due to her retirement, she was given a place on the squad upon her return. Her place would only be ratified if she managed to pick up a medal at the German European Cup, on her comeback to the sport at international level. Sophie achieved a bronze medal at the competition, paving the way for her and coach Brian to experience the greatest show on earth once more.

Since her comeback to Judo, Brian’s student has been on fine form. In 2011, she picked up six medals including a bronze at the Olympic test event last November, and this month she managed to pick up a gold at the Senior British Championships for the 52kg weight category.

Much of Brian’s hard work is now done, as the athletes have finished their intensive training programmes and are concentrating on only one training session per day and taking part in test fights. Making sure that the athlete loses the correct weight is of paramount importance, to ensure they can participate in the competition.

Making the weight category is a particular challenge for Cox, as she is required to lose three kilos before any events she is involved in. Previous to her retirement, Sophie fought in the heavier 57kg category which meant that she was often lighter than her opponents. By dropping down a weight category, this should mean that Cox is one of the heavier judokas in her competition, making her one of the more intimidating fighters to face.

Sophie is yet to win a gold medal at an international event, but London 2012 promises to be her best opportunity in her sporting career to achieve that goal.

Brian described Cox as “razor-sharp” going into the games, after doing everything she possibly can during preparation in her bid for Olympic success. He also admitted that she is in the “best condition that he’s ever seen her in for a competition”, both physically and mentally.

With life-long coach Brian, her family and a home crowd on the sidelines, Cox will undoubtedly receive a massive psychological boost as she bids to finally become a gold medallist. Stranger things have happened on home soil, as during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, the first-ever official women’s Judo medal that Australia had ever received was won by their own Maria Pekli.

After a 22-year relationship consisting of preparation and training for an occasion such as London 2012, Brian and the rest of Britain alike, will be hoping that all of their hard work will come to fruition and result in an Olympic judo medal being awarded to Sophie later this month.