John Buchanan was presented with the JudoScotlandPathway Coach of the Year award earlier this week by JudoScotland CEO Judith McCleary. John received his award at his home club Sportif, surrounded by the judoka who nominated him for this prestigious national award in recognition of his hard work and dedication to coaching. John, a five time British Champion and 2014 Commonwealth Games medalist, was pleased to pick up the award and thanked those within his club: “They’re a real pleasure to work with, they make my job easier.” John received the award at his club in Larbert but also coaches in other areas spanning Linlithgow, Cupar, St Andrews, Falkirk, Coatbridge, Airdrie  and Dunblane. He said: “It’s nice to be recognised within the judo community, it helps to reinforce that you’re doing something right.”

Despite John’s inclination to downplay his efforts, his dedication to the sport and his commitment to providing opportunities for judoka to enhance their skills are not to be overlooked. John along with wife Clare has meticulously coordinated travel and accommodation arrangements for trips within the UK, demonstrating his unwavering commitment to his athletes.  John has led groups of judoka to various competitions and training camps, both domestically and internationally, providing them with exposure to diverse levels of competition and training environments.

John’s coaching philosophy extends beyond medal-winning; he prioritises nurturing confident and respectful individuals in his club and beyond. During the award ceremony, some of John’s athletes took time out of their training session to share their thoughts. “John has helped us enjoy our judo more,” remarked one judoka, reflecting on the positive impact John has had on their experience in the sport. Another added, “He’s helped us improve a lot more as well.”  Lexi, John’s daughter and one of the athletes at Sportif, finished with, “He’s my dad and my coach, he does everything for me.”

Speaking on behalf of JudoScotland, Judith said ‘Coaches have a huge impact on the lives of those they coach. As well as supporting the development of judo skills on the mat, they help judoka to become more independent, confident and resilient; skills that are transferred into lots of other areas. We know how much work is undertaken behind the scenes by John and other coaches  -booking facilities, goal setting, session planning and competition preparation are just a few of the other tasks. It was a pleasure to present John with the JudoScotland Pathway Coach of the Year award and to see club members thrive under his guidance and what appears to be endless enthusiasm!