Curtis Dodge – Flipping from Judo to grappling with wrestling

There are not many athletes who have represented their country at two different sports at the Commonwealth Games. Curtis Dodge has.

Not only that, but now he is competing in his third Games for Team Wales.

Dodge started out as a judoka, training under his father’s mentorship in the Gower School of Judo.

In Birmingham, he will again be wearing the red of Wales, but this time in wrestling.

Starting the sport of judo at the age of seven, Dodge competed at the Youth Olympics and won seven British Judo titles before heading the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

In fact, his earliest memory of the sport was watching the 2000 Olympics with his father and siblings.

“I was 100-miles-an-hour as a kid,” he says.

“I had plenty of energy to burn, but not enough discipline.

“But I loved judo as I think it helped me with both of those things. Coming home from school to go down the club with my dad, was all I wanted to do.

“I grew up with judo, going through national and international levels, all the way up to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

“But after Glasgow, I just felt that I needed a bit of a change. I felt like I needed a new challenge.

“My father had a background in judo. He was my club coach right up until Glasgow pretty much. We are really close and he has done so much for me.

“It’s hard to put into words the amount he has done. I have been doing little bits with my son, who is five, and I can see now from his perspective and how it was for him coaching me.

“It was hard to understand what it was like on the other side, but from my perspective of being a child I didn’t know any difference. He was always my coach, and that was that.

“Any questions, advice or help, he was always there. It was like having your own personal coach on speed dial. Everything is out on the table, everyone knows where they are.

“I think that honesty was hugely beneficial.”

Dodge made the switch from Judo to wrestling and competed in his second Commonwealth Games in 2018, having only started wrestling 14 months beforehand.

Despite the odds that were stacked against him, he became acclimated to his new sport very quickly.

The 29-year-old added: “I still enjoy martial arts and there are a lot of similarities, so it was a nice background to get into wrestling.

“My mates were still competing at judo and I had that feeling in my stomach, I knew I had more in me.

“I realized then that it was more of a case of me not being done with competing, but being done with judo.

“It was between cycles, so it was always going to be difficult to reach those top levels. I didn’t have any intention originally to go for the Gold Coast, I just got stuck in.

“I was trying to think about what to do next. I was searching for something that I’d be able to take my skills and experience into.

“As it has a lot of similarities and skills to judo, wrestling was the logical move.

“I remember starting wrestling, vividly. I started training a week before my son was born and I just went for it. Looking back to that time, I probably had enough on my plate!”

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