Karl’s last big throw for Olympic dream

Karl Etherington at the Martial Arts Academy in Blackpool
Karl Etherington at the Martial Arts Academy in Blackpool
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JUDO stalwart Karl Etherington is back to his belting best and is on the shortlist for the 2012 Olympics ... even though he will be approaching his 37th birthday by the time of the London Games.

The Ansdell martial arts ace has qualified for the final eight from which the British teams for both London 2012 and this year’s World Cup in Liverpool will be selected.

Etherington, now 35, made the grade by finishing third in a gruelling British Judo Association qualifier for over-100kg fighters in Sheffield, where he beat such top fighters as Neil Schofield, Mathew Clempner and Scottish champion Gavin McNeill.

“It was seven fights in one day, which I’d never done before, and I certainly had to deal with fatigue,” Karl said.

“The Clempner fight lasted four and a half minutes and really took a lot out of me. I had as little as 20 minutes’ rest between fights but my coach Martin McSorley kept on perking me up.”

Etherington first took up judo at the age of seven and was a successful junior. However, he drifted out of the sport as an adult until he returned to competing seven years ago.

Karl won gold at the English senior championships in 2007, adding a bronze in that event last year, when he also claimed silver in the Welsh Open.

Etherington, who also played rugby league with Blackpool Stanley, is delighted to be back in Blackpool after training in Manchester in recent years. He is now based at the Martial Arts Academy on Waterloo Road.

Besides trainer McSorley, Etherington also thanked top wrestling coach Paul Rice for his assistance.