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Pictured: Martin Rivers with his award.
JUDO stalwart Martin Rivers has been honoured with the Volunteer of the Year award at the Sussex Sports Awards ceremony.
The 34-year-old won the award in recognition of the large part of his free time that he gives to judo in the county. Rivers spends two evenings a week coaching at the Kin Ryu Judo Club in Crawley, but also juggles two more roles as co-ordinator for competitions in the county and a British referee. And having been involved with judo since the age of 10, Rivers said he was "extremely pleased" to have received the volunteer award.
"To be recognised for what I have done through the county is very pleasing for me," he said. "Judo was nominated in a lot of other categories on the night but hadn't won anything so it was good to get an award for judo." After injuring his knee in a judo match five years ago, Rivers' main focus is now on the off-mat affairs.
One of his main commitments to the sport is refereeing and he was in Sheffield at the weekend to officiate at the British Youth and Senior Championships. And although he stressed that a referee's task in a judo match is very difficult, he said that the self-control inherent in martial arts means that officials decisions are accepted largely without dispute." In judo you have a split second decision to make and referees will call it as best they see," he said. "Being a martial art, judo is very disciplined. When decisions are made, they are generally accepted. If the trainer disagrees with something he will approach the senior referee afterwards".
Rivers, who works as a computer programmer, helps to train others to become senior referees and even runs courses for children as young as 10 to earn refereeing qualifications. "We currently have four or five people at the club who have been trained up to area referees and to see them getting their qualifications is very satisfying," he said. He intends to enhance his own CV by becoming a European and international standard referee.