COWDENBEATH has a new British champion after a Beath High School pupil fought his way to judo glory.

James Rutherford, who is a member of Destination Judo Club, travelled south of the border at the beginning of the month to compete in the British Pre Cadet Boys and Cadet Girls Championships 2022, and returned home with a gold medal.

The talented 13-year-old, who took up the sport when Destination Judo provided taster sessions while he was in P5, competed in the male under-50kg pre-cadet class, for competitors aged 15 years and under, over the weekend of December 3-4.

Having tasted success at competitions in both Scotland and Wales prior to travelling to the British event, which was held in Sheffield, James was seeded by British Judo, and received a bye in the first round.

His first opponent was Rudy Green, of Bishops Stortford Judokwai, who was defeated in two minutes and 43 seconds by a wazari throw and technical hold down.

Reece Blackshaw, of Sheffield's Penistone Judo Club, was up next and a drop seoi nage – a shoulder throw – saw the Cowdenbeath star through to the gold medal match after only 36 seconds of the contest.

In the final, James faced off against William Christiensen, of Lincoln Judo Academy and, in an encounter that went the full distance, the talented Fifer won it with a wazari throw.

His proud dad, Alex, told Times Sport: "It was a good achievement.

"He's over the moon. Normally, he's quite shy, but he's been quite happy to tell people that he is a British champion.

"He performed really, really well. I think only one other Scottish competitor got a gold medal.

"Again, he has produced great performances and done the family, Beath High School, and Cowdenbeath, proud. A special thanks should also go to his coaches, Colin Woods of Destination Judo, and Davie Reilly, of Danderhall Judo."

James, who could be set to move up a weight category next year, is to travel to Kendal in the New Year with JudoScotland for a training camp, featuring British Judo athletes, and is hopeful of competing in European competitions, as well as the new Grand Prix season, which starts in March.

In October, he picked up a gold medal at the Welsh Pre-Cadet and Cadet Open before, just a week later, repeating the feat at the JudoScotland Scottish National Closed Championships.

Earlier in the year, James also travelled to Belgium with JudoScotland for a four-day training camp, and rubbed shoulders with the likes of two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Sarah Adlington, and Dalgety Bay's Kirsty Marsh, who made her Commonwealth Games debut for Scotland at Birmingham 2022.

JudoScotland, who said that the British Judo Championships are "the pinnacle of domestic judo in the UK", added that Scottish competitors won 29 medals in the Pre Cadet and Cadet Girls competition, which was close to their best-ever result.