Neumann looking to follow in footsteps of judo great Ono

Young judo ace Eryk Neumann is hoping to follow in the footsteps of judo legend Shohei Ono.
Young judo ace Eryk Neumann is hoping to follow in the footsteps of judo legend Shohei Ono.

By Tom Masters

Judo starlet Eryk Neumann has set the ambitious target of following in the decorated footsteps of hero Shohei Ono and winning Olympic gold.

Neumann, 17, competes in the same weight category as Ono, 66-73kg, and if he can even replicate half of what the Japanese sensation has achieved, he will surely be regarded as an all-time great.

Ono, 30, is a double Olympic and a six-time world champion, winning gold medals in every major competition he has featured at since 2015.

But Neumann’s ambition is not without foundation, with the Sutton Coldfield ace winning gold in the English Championships to add to his silver medal from the Welsh Open.

He said: “I like watching him, I like his techniques.

“Some of the techniques I do are the same as his and the way he does it is just really impressive.

“For me, the long-term goal is the Olympics of course, I want to win a gold medal in that.”

Neumann is a member of the Aldi’s Rising Stars programme, an initiative that supports 20 young athletes by providing a financial award to help with training and competition costs, while also delivering personal development opportunities to many athletes through workshop sessions.

Athletes sponsored by Aldi and Sportsaid
Athletes sponsored by Aldi and Sportsaid

Paris 2024 will likely come too early for the West Midlands star – making the Los Angeles 2028 Games a realistic target – but he acknowledges he has a long way to go before having a first tilt at Olympic gold.

After winning medals at both the English Championships and in Wales, next up for Neumann will be attempting to conquer Britain, before bidding to bag medals abroad.

“I just finished the English Championships, the next one is probably going to be British Championships some time in November,” he said.

“The short-term goal for me would be to gain a gold medal at the British Championships.

“Then I want to go abroad to European events with the goal of medalling there.”

As an Aldi Rising Stars athlete, Neumann will receive financial support through Aldi as well as a monthly food voucher to fuel him through training, competitions and hopefully onto future Olympic Games.

And speaking from a special Taste Kitchen workshop at Aldi HQ in Atherstone, he added: “I already did a lot of the stuff with nutrition.

“But there’s a lot of new stuff I learnt which I’m going to incorporate into my diet.

“I was really happy and excited to be working with such a big company, it’s something I’m really proud of.

“The support helps me financially but also sessions like these about nutrition and other training sessions are really useful.

“The next one is about interviews and social media so there’s a lot to take out of it that’s going to help in the future.”

Aldi is the Official Supermarket Partner of Team GB and ParalympicsGB and have partnered with Team GB since 2015, ParalympicsGB since 2022 and will be supporting them through to Paris 2024