Penistone judoka selected for Commonwealth Games

Penistone’s Lachlan Moorhead has been chosen to represent his country at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham as one of 14 athletes that will make up the home nation’s Judo team.

And he is looking to add a gold to his already expanding medal collection which includes bronze medals at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, European Junior Cup, and Junior European Championships.

Lachlan, now 22, originally took up the sport when he was six and has been a fighter in the GB Judo senior squad for the last four years. He became British champion in his half-middleweight category last December.

Lachlan Moorhead Judo
Penistone’s Lachlan Moorhead chosen as part of Team England’s Judo squad at the Commonwealth Games 2022

“I started judo when I was a six-year-old little tearaway with loads of energy. My dad was into boxing and judo and he’d take me training with him where I’d be running rings around the place. He decided to take me to the junior sessions before to tire me out.”

Lachlan soon fell in love with the sport and his dad Matt opened a judo club in their hometown of Penistone in 2009 to be closer to home, with the nearest clubs in Rotherham, Barnsley and Sheffield.

“My dad started Penistone Judo Club to stop all the running about but it kind of backfired on him as soon he was taking me to places like Edinburgh, Newcastle and London for competitions.”

Lachlan says he started taking competing seriously at age 14, heading down for training at the British Judo Olympic and Paralympic National Training Centre in Birmingham as much as he could while still a schoolboy.

At 16 he began competing internationally and made the move to Birmingham at 18 training full-time as part of the British Judo squad.

Judo has taken Lachlan around the world, including Lithuania, Finland Croatia and Mongolia. Before the Commonwealth Games come to Birmingham in July, Lachlan will be heading out to Budapest to compete in the Grand Slam Hungary.

And he’s hungry to impress at the Games on home turf.

“I’m pretty pleased as it’ll be my first time competing in the Commonwealth Games and to have it on British soil will be a bonus, as my friends and family will be there to cheer me on. While I was hopeful about being chosen, it’s not an automatic thing. It’s never 100 per cent known and confirmed until the announcement is officially made. I’d just got back to the UK from a competition in Mongolia when I heard I’d been selected,” he said.

Lachlan Moorhead, part of Team England judo squad
Team England Judo squad who will be competing at the Commonwealth Games 2022

As well as his daily athletic training, Lachlan juggles a busy schedule as a full-time student at the University of Birmingham, where he is in his second year of studying for a BSc degree in Business Management.

He is also an ambassador for the charity If U Care Share which raises awareness of male suicide and mental health issues. He was inspired to join the charity after watching boxer Tyson Fury battle his own mental health demons. He said: I’m very privileged never to have gone through mental health issues, but admire the charity and how it supports everyday life pressures.

“I find exercise helps me stay on track and while I get nervous before events it’s a level of fear and nervousness that is working on your side and not against you.”

In addition to his own judo career, Lachlan gives back to his local community in South Yorkshire using his expertise to support and encourage young judo players in the area, ranging from Junior British Champions to those with visual impairments and special needs.

*Photography by Sam Mellish (c) 2022