Sam Clegg with the two medals he won at last weekend’s national judo competition. PHOTO/FACEBOOK

JAKE BELESKI

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A chance encounter with a business card at a barber shop has led to Sam Clegg becoming a national judo champion.

The 14-year-old Wairarapa College student won a gold medal in the under-66kg senior boys division at last weekend’s national competition at the Walter Nash Centre in Lower Hutt.

He also picked up a silver medal in the open senior boys division.

Sam said it was only due to his mother’s intuition that he even gave judo a chance.

“Mum saw a little business card at the barber shop and just thought it looked like something that would be fun to go have a go at.

“I’ve now been doing judo for about the past four years.”

The event in Lower Hutt marked the first time he had competed at a national competition, and he definitely made it count.

Sam fought seven fights across the two days, against five different opponents.

He hadn’t set himself any particular goals before the event, but was delighted with how it had unfolded.

“I went in there trying to give it my best, and if I came away with something that was just a bonus,” he said.

“I felt pretty happy that I’d managed to fight my way up.”

The “relaxed and friendly environment” had helped him feel comfortable competing at a national level, he said.

Judo is a year-round sport, and Sam said that was one of the biggest positives.

“It definitely keeps you busy.

“I’m training two times a week at the Masterton Judo and Ju Jitsu Academy at the moment.”

Sam is a brown belt, but has aspirations of becoming a black belt in the not-too-distant future.

He won’t be able to push for a black belt until he turns 16, but already has a plan for how he can get there once he does.

“I’d like to be able to improve my judo and try and get my black belt, and move on from there,” he said.

“I have to get 100 points through competition or other means, and I think it’s 10 points if you beat another brown or black belt.”

The contribution of his trainers at the Masterton Judo and Ju Jitsu Academy had been crucial to helping his development, he said.

“They’ve been really good to me — they’ve been patient and tried to do the best they can with me and I’m really happy with my progress.”