From injury hell to World Tour

Ben Urban is back on the mat following a serious knee injury and is set to represent Great Britain on the U21 World Tour
Ben Urban is back on the mat following a serious knee injury and is set to represent Great Britain on the U21 World Tour
  • Ben Urban set to compete on U21 World Tour
  • 19-year-old back on the mat after 18 months out with serious injury
  • University student appeals for sponsorship help

A judo talent from Ore Village has fought his way back from a major injury to compete in a global circuit.

Ben Urban has a rich pedigree in the sport having been British champion at under-73 kilos twice and a British runner-up twice as well. He has also represented Team GB on multiple occasions.

But disaster struck at a GB training camp in the 2012/13 season. Ben was standing on the side of the mat watching when a player was thrown into the side of his right knee, causing it to collapse inwards.

He twice underwent reconstructive surgery to repair medial collateral ligament damage and spent 18 months off the mat before making a successful return at the Heart of England Championships last September, winning a bronze medal.

Ben said: “My main expectations for my comeback were to get back doing the sport I love; however I always knew that wouldn’t be enough for me. In my first three tournaments back, I have finished top seven and hope to push on to becoming top of my game again.”

Off the back of those encouraging results Ben, who will turn 20 next month, has been given the opportunity to represent GB in the forthcoming U21 World Tour.

The tour starts on May 9 in Lithuania, and Ben also hopes to attend events in Spain during May and Czech Republic in July.

He is also aiming to compete at the Slovenia Senior European Cup in June, British Senior European Cup in July and Finland Senior European Cup in October.

If successful at these competitions, Ben will earn a place on the world ranking list. He is not currently a funded GB athlete, however, and therefore has to self-fund all these competitions, each of which costs £300-£500.

Ben is a first year student at Goldsmiths, University of London, and also trains at Tonbridge Judo Club and Zodiac Judo Club in Hastings, where coaches Duncan and Stuart Maclean have trained him since the age of 11.

He is looking forward to starting a full time judo programme with Chris Bowles and Colin Eldridge, performance coaches at Tonbridge Judo Club who have also been his coaches since winning his first British title at 14.

“I owe a lot to my coaches for helping me get to a point where I have confidence in myself again to believe that I can achieve results I have before and I hope that I can do it again this season,” Ben continued.

“My goals for the year are to qualify for British Senior Championships in December and hopefully win my first European Cup medal on the Junior U21 World Tour.”

Domestically, Ben is due to compete in Scotland at the Sportif International and the Northern Ireland Open in April.

Alongside his competitive career, he dedicates a lot of his time alongside Sophie Johnstone (former British champion) to coaching the Sussex under-16 boys’ and girls’ teams. A busy two months lie ahead with Sussex Squad Trials on April 19 and Southern Area Inter-County Championships on May 3.

Any individuals or businesses who would like to help Ben achieve his goals through sponsorship should email benurban95@gmail.com