An elite Barrow coach has made history after becoming the first ever Ne-waza European Judo Champion.

The Ne-waza only category is a fairly new competition discipline in judo and involves just the groundwork turnovers to secure hold downs, arm locks and strangle techniques.

36-year-old Danny Harper travelled to Sarajevo in Bosnia to compete in the European Judo Championships Veterans 2024.

READ MORE: Elite judo coaches launch new Furness Judo Academy in Ulverston

Originally from Kendal, Danny has won British Championship medals in the Pre-Cadet, Cadet & Junior age groups and has won many more medals competing all over the world.

Last year he won The British Judo Coach of the Year 2023 and received nearly 20 individual nominations for the award.

Being the first European champion in Ne-waza and becoming a official 'historic figure' was definitely a first for Danny.

He said: "When I arrived, the arena was the size of the MEN - it was absolutely massive.

"Then the President of the European Judo Union took me aside and basically said: 'you're going to be making history today'.

"It was definitely a big spectacle and it's the most pressure I've felt.

(Image: European Judo Union) "I've done Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and obviously this was my first time doing a Ne-waza event so I did feel the pressure.

"I had two really good opponents, one German guy and a Polish guy that was a bit of a man mountain.

"When I won I didn't quite realise what I'd achieved and it took a while to sink in.

"Becoming a historical figure is pretty cool. 

"Ne-waza is great and good for those who are struggling with the standing element in judo. I'm not quite there yet but I'd like to compete in both in the future."

(Image: European Judo Union) The 36-year-old started judo at the tender age of six at Kendal Judo Club and began coaching in 2013.

His now CEO of DNA Judo and is working with younger counterparts, Evan Allan and Evie Vose, who are first-degree black belts and national level competitors in their own right.

He launched a brand new Furness judo academy last month with the aim of re-igniting the region's long association with the martial art.

To find out more, visit the Furness Judo Academy website