Blind fighter tops on mat
By ADAM WRATTEN
CHAMPION blind martial arts exponent Anthony Clarke's sights were firmly set on victory at the Australian Kodokan Judo Championships at Tweed on the weekend.
Clarke, 44, is one of his sport's great competitors with a swag of honours to his name, including three national titles in his weight division (under 90kg), two world vision impaired titles and a gold medal at the Atlanta Paralympic Games in the under 95kg division (he has competed at four Paralympics).
Yesterday, he took to the mats at Tweed River High School in search of a fourth national title.
Clarke, a 3rd Dan black belt, said judo was one of the most evenly matched sports the blind could compete in.
"We are at a small disadvantage at the start, when you are vulnerable and your opponent can make a running attack, but once they get a grip you can get yours and you don't need sight," Clarke said.
"I have a coach on the sidelines, who helps me, mainly with letting me know if I'm going to go out of the court."
The 44-year-old has been fighting for 25 years, starting after he lost his sight in a car accident when he was 17.
"I think once you accept you have a disability you have to get on with life, don't worry about the pressures and do things for your own reasons," Clarke said.
He is making a living now travelling across the country as a motivational speaker, having achieved everything he set out to do in the sport."
"I have reached my goals, my aim now is to have fun and apply perfect technique (in my bouts)," he said.
And he has not ruled out another Paralympics, with Beijing a possibility depending on how he feels when qualifying starts next year. Find out how Anthony and our Tweed competitors went at the national judo championships in tomorrow's Daily News.