Wirral judo sensation strikes gold

Joshua Hughes trains at Wirral Judo Club and fights for the Adaptive (Disability) Team GB worldwide in the II3 category.

He was diagnosed with autism at a young age. Since joining the club in 2011, aged 5, he has improved his abilities and was selected for the Adaptive Team GB just over a year ago.

With the team, Joshua has been to four major international events. His first was the Inaugural Virtus Oceania Asia Games, which took place in Brisbane, Australia in November 2022. There, Josh won gold after beating the Japanese adaptive champion in a mere minute.

Just two weeks after returning home, he flew to Venray, Netherlands to compete in the Nihon Dutch Open Shenshu, where he came second in his category, after winning four of five fights.

Then, in the same month, disaster struck. Josh was training when his partner landed on him during a throw, breaking his collarbone, putting Josh into a three-month injury. However, in February 2023, Josh returned to the mat, as strong as he was before the injury, and was ready for what was next.

In June 2023, Josh competed at the Virtus Global Games in Vichy, France, where Josh became the world #1 ranked -73kgs II3 player to take his seat at the top of the world, above Israeli and Australian competition.

However, it doesn’t stop there. In August this year, Josh competed at the British Adaptive Open in Cardiff, Wales. And, if you couldn’t guess already, Josh won the gold medal here and solidified his status as the -73kg Adaptive best player.

Finally, Josh has most recently competed at the first-ever European Judo Union recognised Adaptive Judo Event, his second Nihon Dutch Open, improving his record in the Netherlands by topping the group after four intense rounds, beating a strong Hungarian opponent both in the group stages and in the final by penalties.

Eddie Hughes and Wendy Middlehurst, Josh’s Parents said, “Josh is a local lad, and has gone global in his area of sport. All we ask is for Joshua to be recognised for his hardships, victories as well as any financial support.

“At the moment, all Adaptive Judo events are self-funded, meaning all expenses are paid for through donations and fundraisers. This often leaves parents and fundraisers penniless. Therefore, we kindly ask for Josh’s story to be posted as much as possible so that he can continue trailblazing the Adaptive Judo world.”

You can donate to Josh’s GoFundMe here

Image: Josh (centre) on the podium

Why not follow birkenhead.news on Facebook, Twitter, and Threads? You can also send story ideas or letters to the editor to news@birkenhead.news