Gordon McCathie has seen Ultimate Judo emerge from lockdown in a stronger position than he could have hoped for.
The Aberdeen club, which runs a number of classes around the city, adapted to and weathered the last 18 months, coming out the other side with a brighter future.
The club is the busiest it has been in 11 years, with all their midweek classes up and running again.
Zoom had proved a very useful outlet during lockdown to keep members engaged and eased any fears of a drop-off in numbers.
“When we started the club, we had zero members and we built it to big (numbers),” said McCathie. “People enjoyed what we were doing so I thought we’d get people back, but it might be slow.
“We had tremendous support from the members throughout lockdown. We had something on Zoom seven days a week and we kept most of our members, which is phenomenal.
“Most of our new members are by word of mouth, which is great as people are still talking about the club.”
McCathie was recently presented with the service to sport award by Club Sport Aberdeen, a body designed to represent the best interests of sports clubs in the Granite City, to celebrate the work he has done through judo.
“They said I’d been nominated for something and I was in two minds,” said McCathie. “Someone has taken the time to nominate you because they’ve seen you doing something good.
“The second was it’s a service to sport award – I’m turning 40 this year so is someone telling me to retire? But it was really nice to be nominated for any award and service to sport is quite a big one.
“It’s not through a judo body – it’s through one that recognises all sports. I was on the virtual AGM and they said I won it; I was taken aback and it’s very humbling to win these things.”
McCathie is never one to stand still. Ultimate Judo were able to return to the dojo during the summer for in-person classes and plans continue at pace to take the club forward.
A trip to Japan is pencilled in for 2023, with hopes of meeting up with a club they had a Zoom session with during lockdown.
“Judo is a lifestyle, not just a sport,” added McCathie. “When you see kids grow and develop, not only in how they do their judo but when they go away to university because they’ve got good grades – part of that is because they had an escape through judo.
“We’ve seen it have an affect on people’s lives and that’s why we do it. It’s changed my life and I enjoy seeing other people enjoy that.”
Club Sport Aberdeen chairman Brian Pahlmann was effusive in his praise for the work McCathie is doing through judo.
He said: “I’ve been acquainted with Gordon for several years now. I truly believe Gordon is changing lives through the instrument of judo.
“He is certainly deserving of ClubSport Aberdeen’s 2021 Service to Sport award. It is a pleasure to honor Gordon with this small token of appreciation on behalf of all the lives he has positively impacted through judo.”