Rick’s passion for the martial art earns him top honour

Rick Kenny (Galashiels) Hon. life membership of Judo Scotland.
Rick Kenny (Galashiels) Hon. life membership of Judo Scotland.

RICK Kenney is best known in this area for his five-and-a-half-year stint in coaching development and sports recreation positions with Scottish Borders Council.

Yet, beyond the suit and meetings is a man with a passion for the martial art of judo which has lasted 49 years.

Rick’s commitment as a player, coach and administrator earned him a lifetime membership of Judo Scotland last month, but he now has eyes on becoming the joint second highest-ranked player in the UK.

“I am hoping to become an eighth dan in 2014,” said Rick. “There is currently only one in Scotland (Colin McIver) and five in the whole of the UK. The UK’s only 10th dan is George Kerr from Edinburgh.

It was obvious the Lanarkshire lad had a talent for the Japanese art turned Olympic sport, and Rick picked up his black belt at the age of 16, unheard of in the 1950s and 60s.

He would progress to British level, and in one year had the honour of grabbing the Scottish junior and senior, and UK closed championships all at once.

But Rick, studying to be a PE teacher in Glasgow, began to struggle against players from London who were training full time with the help of sponsors. His playing highlight would end up being two World University Championship appearances, the latter in 1974 in Brussels which saw Rick finish in fifth place.

What followed was a move into coaching and Rick helped the Meadowbank club in Edinburgh become the most successful team in Scotland during the 1970s and early 80s.

His greatest coaching achievement stands out as leading the Scottish Commonwealth Games squad to seven medals in 1990 in Auckland, New Zealand, including a gold for Loretta Cusack.

Rick then turned to the administrative side of judo, including a spell as chairman of Scotland’s governing body and was also vice chairman of Scotland’s Commonwealth Games Council.