AN OPEN LETTER FROM
an incredible career in Judo, Nicola Fairbrother has decided to retire.
She started with me at the age of seven, so I have come to know her
quite well during the last twenty-three years. During this period,
her C.V. in Judo has been surpassed by very few Judoka in the world.
Her achievements are so numerous it is impossible to mention them
all. As her coach, these achievements have given me great pleasure.
I remember her first medal, won at a little Mini Mon at St Crispins
Sport Centre in Wokingham. This tiny medal has an important place
amongst the massive trophy display at her parent's home.
To me her greatest achievement was the World Title won at Hamilton,
Canada in 1993. The 1992 Olympic Silver medal in the Barcelona, which
came so close to being Britain's first ever Olympic Judo Gold, is
a close second. Nik was honoured by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth with
the MBE, for her contribution to British Sport.
Four European Titles, 1 junior and 3 senior, shows what an incredibly
consistent fighter she has been at the very top level over a long
period. In fact, Nik has been British number one in her weight for
over a decade.
During 1993, Nik was presented with the European Judoka of the year
award; this is an outstanding honour. She has also been presented
with the Dame Edith Russell-Smith Vase on two occasions for Women's
British Judo Personality of the year. Three times runner up in the
Sunday Times Sports Award is another quality recognition.
She has always been a wonderful ambassador for British Judo, popular
with all the top people in the world. Many a time I have been with
her when Judoka and Coaches from foreign countries will go out of
their way to speak with her.
Judo is a sport, which demands incredible mental and physical control
if you are to reach the highest level. Nik has not had an easy competitive
life and to cope with the many disappointments, over the years, she
has developed an amazing strength of character. I am sure this strength
will bring her success in whatever career she decides to tackle in
Pinewood has always been her haven and she never missed a chance to
advertise the Club. I remember at the World Championships in Canada
when the Canadian television wanted to interview her, Nik insisted
she should wear the Pinewood T shirt the members has sent out with
me. The T.V. people tried to boss her about, saying they did not have
time for her to change. Nik said" forget it then" and walked off.
Needless to say they came round and Nik was interviewed, the shirt
prominently displayed. They probably had a vision of what their boss
would have said, when told there was no interview with the British
under 56 Kgs World Champion.
Any coach would be pleased to have such a successful athlete under
their wing and I am no exception. My system of training seems to have
suited her and I have travelled the world on the back of her success.
I have seen many places I would not have visited of my own volition
and it has expanded my horizons immensely.
Her natural intelligence has always made her easy to coach and it
is seldom we have had any real difference of opinion, probably because
over the years I have convinced her I am never wrong. I believe Nik
has made the decision to retire at the right time, after all an injury
you laugh at when eighteen, takes on a whole new meaning twelve years
It was back in the summer of 99 that we first discussed the possibility
of retirement, but after so many years, you do not rush into such
I have to say it is with some sadness that I view her departure from
the Pinewood Contest Squad. However, she will always be a big part
of the Club because she is, and always will be, a great influence
on the squad and her successes are depicted everywhere within the
What we have learned together, through the years, I will use to advantage
with the new generation of fighters who are just beginning their climb
to the top.
So thanks, Nik, for an exceptional 23 years and we all at Pinewood
wish you every success in the future; in whatever career you decide
to take on.
As I retire from judo, I would like to thank some people: Don. My
mum and dad. Darren. Everybody at Pinewood. Miriam and my Spanish
club. My friends ...
The list does go on. And on. After all I've been doing judo for 22
years and that's 22 years of support and help - therefs a lot of
people I would like to thank.
All these people are spearheaded by one person - Don Werner. Don taught
me everything I needed to make it all possible and stood by my side
through it all. He taught me my judo. He also taught me how to compete;
how to win, and he taught me how to accept losing. From when I was
8 until Moscow this year, he has been there for me. Don, it seems
insufficient as a word, but THANK YOU.
There are many more people who supported me and in doing so made the
winning that much sweeter and the losing that much easier to take.
Mum. What can I say? In-exhaustible, she has filled pool sheets out
and had her shoulders cried on in stadiums around the world, always
believing I could do it. Dad. Thanks for the logic and calmness essential
to winning. Darren, for being my involuntary uke for Juji-gatames.
(I am now paying dearly for those reckless teenage years when he weighed
slightly less than he does today).
To my friends. Friends, who have seen me at my best and worst, my
highest and lowest and without whom I wouldn't have got through the
bad times nor enjoy the good times. I have made my best friends through
judo and thank you all. I won't list you all here, not so much for
fear of missing anyone out as I know exactly who you are - but I wouldn't
like to put an order to it (!!!)
Thank you to every single fighter and parent at Pinewood. It is the
perfect club, as only Pinewood fighters can understand. And thanks
must also go to the fighters at the Spanish club where I trained for
the last 2 years of my career and to Miriam, who has tried to turn
that Silver into Gold, but some things just aren't meant to be.
And the list continues... Ken Kingsbury, Roy Inman, Neil White, Ian
Morsman, Alan Porton. Thank you.
Medals are not won by one person, but they are reflection of a lot
of hard work from a lot of people. Thank you all, it's been fantastic.
|2000 Paris Tournament
Tadashi Nomura (JPN)|
Yordanis Arenciba (CUB)
Ferrid Kheder (FRA)
Maarten Arens (NED)
Frederic Demontfaucon (FRA)
Kosei Inoue (JPN)
Yasuyuki Muneta (JPN)
Atsuko Nagai (JPN)
Liu Yuxiang (CHI)
Magali Baton (FRA)
Jung Sung-Sook (KOR)
Ulla Werbrouck (BEL)
Edinanci F. Silva (BRA)
Yuan Hua (CHI)