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British judo legend Craig Fallon dies at age of 36
British judo legend Craig Fallon dies at age of 36
16 Jul 2019 12:25
Franco Di Capua

The judo world is shocked by the death of World Champion Craig Fallon. He went missing on Saturday and was found dead on Monday morning aged just 36 on The Wrekin. His body was found at a hill, a beauty spot, near Wellington which is 40km west from Wolverhampton. Fallon was just appointed as head coach of the Welsh Judo Association.

Fallon became World Champion in Cairo in 2005 at the age of 23. He was the third and latest male British judoka to achieve the feat. He defeated Austrian friend Ludwig Paischer. Fallon had won a silver medal in 2003 in Osaka where he lost to Choi Min-Ho, in that year he also won silver at the European Championships in Düsseldorf. The man from Wolverhampton took the European title in 2006 in Tampere. In 2004 he was European U23 Champion and participated at the Olympic Games in 2004 and 2008. The long-time U60kg standout finished seventh at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after stranding in the second round at the Games in Athens in 2004. He won the Grand Slam in Paris in 2003. Fallon had a break after the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 and only fought at a few lower level tournaments. He made a short comeback at the British Championships where he took the title and competed at the WOrld Championships in Paris in 2011 but without a good result and fought for the British team on Sunday but lost to World Champion Ebinuma. Fallon fought years, and until 2011 for Bundesliga club KSV Esslingen.

Ipswich born Fallon, 36, retired from competitive judo in 2011, after competing at four European Championships, three World Championships and two Olympic Games. Craig started judo at the age of 8 and was coached by Fitzroy Davies among others. The former Heath Park School pupil started his career at Wolverhampton Judo Club before moving to Hardy Spicer 83 Judo Club in Birmingham at the age of 14. He also trained full-time as part of the National Academy at Bisham Abbey. Craig also fought for Camberley Judo club. He gained his black belt when he was 15. He was only the second man, along with Neil Adams, to hold both the world and European titles. 

Reactions

His long-time coach, mentor and friend, Fitzroy Davis, said on the IJF website: “Knowing Craig from the age of 15, I can look back on our time working together with fond memories and fun times. At the pinnacle of his career winning the World Championships in Cairo 2005, he was in my eyes one of the true greats of British Judo. His dedication to the sport he loved will stay with me forever and I will cherish the time we spent together. Craig will be a huge loss to the sport, but I hope his achievements and his incredible story will inspire future generations to come. Your coach and friend, Fitz.”

IJF President Marius Vizer said: "This is a truly tragic loss for our sport. On behalf of the IJF, I send my condolences to Craig's family and friends and offer our support at this terrible and testing time."

Reputation around the world

Fallon was coaching at Judo Landesverband Vorarlberg in Austria for the last two years and was appointed as coach in March in Wales. 

Craig was often invited for international stages aroud the World. With former team mates of the British team and international friends he was beloved as a person and technician. Many young athletes will remember his explanations on how to keep judo simple. Well, it looked simple when he did it. Craig was famous for his great kumikata and was an inspired fighter. 

Craig Fallon emailed his partner to say "this was my choice" before he was found dead in woodland. He leaves a wife and son. Rest in peace Champ!