Competing in the 70kg field next week in Russia at the Judo European Championships will be Sally Conway, Samoa World Cup winner and Olympic Test Event silver medallist, who will be hoping to win a medal and secure her place on the Olympic GB team.
We caught up with her for five minutes to find out just how things were shaping up for her ahead of the Championships, her desire to compete in her first Olympic Games and what London 2012 means to Judo.
So the European Championships are coming up next week, how are you feeling about them?
I’m actually feeling really good and excited about them. It will be the last competition before our selections for the Olympics so I’m really up for it and feel ready.
How has your preparation been leading up to the competition?
It’s gone really well. We were in Korea and Japan for a month and then got back from there only a week ago. We had great fights and training out there.
We’ve just had a training camp in Dartford this week which went really well and we’ve had a couple mock competition days, where we had four or five fights in the morning and three fights again in the afternoon.
We made sure each fight was really intense, how it would be in a competition, so that’s been really beneficial for the preparation.
How much more important is the preparation for the Championships with the added pressure of Olympic selection behind it?
I just go into the Europeans exactly the same as if it wasn’t an Olympic year. I’m still doing the same preparations so nothing will change there, but I think it’s just there is a bit more excitement behind it because it is such a special year and obviously I want to do well at the so I can go into the Olympics.
Is the Olympic selection based purely on how you do at the Europeans?
There is myself and another girl in my weight category Gemma Gibbons, so I have to be ahead of her in the rankings in order to be chosen. I’m ahead at the moment but I’d like to get a medal at the Europeans just to guarantee and secure my Olympic place so it would help if I did well.
Do you have any other competitions coming up before the Olympics?
Depending on how the Europeans go, I may do the British Open, which is a couple of weeks after the Europeans. But other than that I think that’s it until the Games. I’ll be mainly focusing on them.
If selected, this will be your first Olympic Games, how special is that to you, especially being at home?
It’s just amazing. Having your friends and family and all the other British supporters, cheering for you I think it will be an amazing atmosphere.
I went out to Beijing in 2008 as an ambassador for London 2012 to see what it was all about. Since then it has given me even more determination to compete in the Olympics.
I was lucky enough as well to see my weight category fight and I saw the 70kg girls get their medals and it made me really want to stand up on that podium, and there is no better place to do it than London.
What do you think the pressure will be like for the British athletes being at home?
I think there will be more pressure but I’m hoping for me, I can control it and make it positive rather than thinking I hope I don’t mess up. I’ve got to remember that everyone there is to support me and I want to try to focus on all the good things and use it to my advantage.
How do you think having the Olympics in London will help judo’s profile in this country?
We don’t get much publicity in judo but more and more people are getting in touch because the Games are at home and I think it’s great for the sport.
People can get a greater understanding of the sport – there will be more programmes and books and people talking about it and hopefully will want to be a part of the sport which is only a great thing.
And of course if the women do well it will add even more interest!
Lizzie Flint, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine