Sport Scholar Interview: George Goldsmith (Judo)

I CAUGHT up with York’s resident Judo superstar, 19 year-old George Goldsmith and found out exactly what it takes to become an elite athlete. Judo is a family affair, as he comes from an incredible Judo pedigree, with one of his brothers a national champion. He’s currently studying Accounting, Business Finance and Management at York alongside competing for Great Britain across Europe. George is an insanely dedicated individual and at a pivotal point in his sporting career as he makes the transition into Senior level. The GB Junior Champion and York Sport Union Scholar talked about juggling sport and studies and what he aims to achieve in the years to come.

How long have you been involved in judo?

I went to my first judo session at the age of 3 and was competing by the age of 7. When I was young I was always involved in the sport because both my brothers played Judo. I remember going to watch my eldest brother Frank fight at his first GB National Championships at crystal palace in 2003 and when he won Gold I knew I wanted to follow in his footsteps. Judo is different to a lot of other sports, and that’s why I know I’ll always be involved in the sport. Working towards my personal goals has always kept me involved in the sport, as an athlete I still feel that I have so much more to achieve. At the moment my aim is to win the GB championships in December and work towards qualification for the junior Europeans and junior worlds next year. However, my main aspiration is to be a successful senior and dominate the international circuit. Throughout my sporting career a lot has been done to help me reach my goals, and I feel that I will always owe something back to the sport of judo because it has taught me invaluable life skills which has developed me into the person I am today.

What has been your biggest achievement across your sporting career?

I have medalled and represented GB across Europe on multiple occasions. Despite this I feel my biggest achievement is being selected for a multi-international TV advert which was filmed in South Africa, Cape Town advertising Rexona (Sure for men). The whole experience was completely unexpected; I was training at my judo club ‘The Budokwai’ in Tottenham when I was approached by a few agents who liked the quality of my judo. So after spending months attending auditions I was told I had been selected for the role. It was an incredible experience and the advert aired in the US, Europe and parts of Asia. What does a typical training week involve? I spend a lot of time training; typically I spend about 2-3 hours in the gym every day and then train in the evenings either on my own or at a judo club. Admittedly before coming to university I spent a lot more time training, a typical week would be about 20 hours’ worth of training, whereas now I spend about 10-15 hours a week training because of studying. Balancing my studies and training is difficult, but I find intense training is also a great way to relax and focus on something else other than exams and work.

What do you do to prepare before a competition?

As Judo is a weight controlled sport preparation is crucial. I used to fight in 60kg category, so 4 weeks before a competition it’s important to stick to my diet. After winning a silver medal at Bucs last year me and my coach decided to move up to 66kg group. From experience, if you fail to give yourself enough time to drop the weight it can have a major impact on your performance. A day before fighting I like to do as little as possible, for me I like to relax and watch films.

How has being a York Sport Union Scholar helped you in your sport?

The York sports scholarship has really helped my training. Access to the York sport facilities allows me to properly prepare and stay sharp, prior to tournaments. The strength and conditioning sessions were really useful to work on areas I personally needed to improve on. Furthermore the nutrition workshop was really insightful and provided some valuable advice that helped me improve my diet and correct some things I was doing wrong.

How would you encourage current students to try something such as Judo?

At a first glance, judo looks very painful and, although it is a contact sport, judo actually translates to ‘the gentle way’. The biggest fear for anyone new to the sport is to get hurt by being thrown, however it’s much easier to relax and go with the throw to avoid hurting yourself. Judo is all about flowing with things and my best advice is to throw yourself into it and at the same time, enjoy it!