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STEPH INGLIS: I hope our athletes don’t take their spots for granted

By Steph Inglis

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Judo player Stephanie Inglis she is in training for the Commonwealth Games. ..Picture: Alasdair Allen. Image No. 021325.
Judo player Stephanie Inglis she is in training for the Commonwealth Games. ..Picture: Alasdair Allen. Image No. 021325.

There’s a special anniversary this weekend. July 31, 2014, was a milestone in my life, the pinnacle of my judo career, the day I represented Team Scotland at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

It was a special moment to swap the GB flag for the Scottish saltire something I have only had the pleasure of doing a few times. And with the Scottish crowd behind me I knew it was going to be memorable.

Not only was I JudoScotland’s first female judoka to fight that day, I was also Team Scotland’s first athlete to win a silver medal for those games – an achievement I can be proud of for the rest of my days and on top of that I can say I was part of a record-breaking team.

With six gold, two silver and five bronze medals across our judo team of 14, we became Scotland’s most successful sport at a Commonwealth Games. Judo was taken out of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games so with its return at this year’s Birmingham Games, the excitement is back. Can this Games team duplicate such success or has the bar been set too high?

The selection process for the games in 2014 was a gruelling battle. We travelled all over the world competing for qualification points at European and world opens. There were about 20 of us trying to bag one of the 14 spots. Between the whole squad we won numerous international senior medals and enjoyed multiple wins across the board making the qualification one of the toughest and most stressful periods in my life.

I was surprised to see the qualification process for the Birmingham 2022 Games significantly lower, however with a much younger and inexperienced team it matched the level of where they currently are in their own judo careers. JudoScotland has selected a young team who have not yet had the same experience on the world stage so competing at such a high level in Birmingham will give them the opportunity to see what it means to be a world-class athlete.

We see the return of gold medallists of Glasgow 2014 in the male and female open weights – Christopher Sherrington and Sarah Adlington and our hopes are high that they will both manage to repeat these performances, while Commonwealth champion Kimberley Renicks will also be taking to the mat with the goal of retaining her title but at the weight category above (-52kg), which is the title she wants to keep in the family as her sister, Louise Renicks took the top spot in Glasgow 2014.

Commonwealth Games Judo silver medal winner Stephanie Inglis...Picture: Callum Mackay. Image No. 026427.
Commonwealth Games Judo silver medal winner Stephanie Inglis...Picture: Callum Mackay. Image No. 026427.

Although these games are in England, I still class it as another ‘home’ games and the Scottish athletes will have great Scottish support present.

Unfortunately, I will not make it there in person as I get married the same week, but I shall be following along with all the action online and on TV. That is assuming we will have TV coverage. As judo is a minority sport, we tend not to have the same coverage as other sports, however, I am hoping that with the success of the team in Glasgow, we might have bagged some TV coverage.

I am also looking forward to watching and catching up with Team Scotland’s athletes across all sports. There is something special about a multi-sport event. Judo was on the first three days in Glasgow which meant we could enjoy the rest of the games happily as we no longer had to keep focused for the competition and we had all done extremely well.

We were given free passes to any of the other sports, which we took advantage of to go and cheer Team Scotland. I enjoyed watching boxing, rugby 7s, weightlifting and gymnastics.

I also remember the athlete village. We were all given houses and we shared ours with the gymnastics team. There were three food halls where you could go in and help yourself – everything free!

We enjoyed booking in for free massages, nail and hair salons, saunas, weights rooms and games rooms.

Then on top of that we were meeting other Team Scotland athletes and getting to know each other, and athletes from all around the Commonwealth.

My chance of competing in Birmingham 2022 was taken away from me by the accident [in Vietnam in 2016] and I hope our judo team do not take their spots for granted. I wish them every success and hope they all get the results they deserve!

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