Hickey’s life-long dedication pays off with major black belt honour

Galway's Chris Hickey (second from left), who was awarded a 6th Dan black belt in Judo last December, is pictured with his daughter Jessica, Fr.Jude McKenna (who paid a visit to Chris' Galway City School of Judo recently), his wife Louise and his son Conor.
Galway's Chris Hickey (second from left), who was awarded a 6th Dan black belt in Judo last December, is pictured with his daughter Jessica, Fr.Jude McKenna (who paid a visit to Chris' Galway City School of Judo recently), his wife Louise and his son Conor.

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

ACTIVE in judo for over 40 years, Chris Hickey’s life-long dedication to the sport was rewarded when the adopted Galway man was presented with the rank of 6th Dan black belt by Japanese Ambassador Mari Miyoshi and the Irish Judo Association in the National Indoor Arena last December.

Hickey, who runs Galway City School of Judo, is still visibly delighted at becoming one of the highest ranked black belts in Ireland and it is clear he will always have fond memories of that very special presentation, which was also attended by Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy and Irish Judo Association President Sean Fleming.

“I was absolutely thrilled,” begins 59-year-old Hickey, who first ventured into the sport in his late teens in the 1970s and, to date, has represented Galway and Ireland at international events across the world, including a fifth-place finish at the World Masters in Kodokan, Tokyo in 2003.

Hickey, though, has worn many hats in the sport. In addition to his current role of coach at Galway City School of Judo, over the years he has also served as Irish Judo Association (IJA) Sports Director, IJA Honorary General Secretary, IJA national grader, judge and referee.

He has also worked with the Irish Sports Council, as a tutor, and the Olympic Council of Ireland, employed on the latter’s Technical Standards Committee which, at the time, was exploring the disparity between the qualifying standards between the different Olympic sports.

“It was looking at, say, sports like swimming where you can qualify on an ‘A’ and ‘B’ time but with Judo you can’t. You can only qualify if you are at the highest level in Europe. That is why it is so hard for judo. Boxing is the same way. You have to get a European medal to qualify so the standards across the board varied greatly.”

These roles that Hickey has held underline that he is a very diligent person and this has also been reflected in his rise in the sport of judo. Throughout the 1980s, he worked his way up through the various colour belts and in 1995 he was graded 1st Dan black belt.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.