British Judoka win big at UK Sport PLx Awards

British Judoka Daniel Powell, Chris Skelley and Jack Hodgson were all winners at the 2023 UK Sport annual high-performance awards, last night.

With the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris just around the corner, these PLx Awards 2023 are a celebration of outstanding achievements by those who have contributed to making extraordinary sporting moments happen over the last year.

With seven awards on offer, Daniel Powell picked up the Social Impact Award, beating Mel Nichols (British Triathlon) and the UCI Cycling World Championships with British Cycling and Scottish Cycling to the award.

The award recognises a sport, member of staff or athlete who has contributed towards societal change, using their platform to inspire positive, meaningful and lasting change.

Dan set up a charity (GNR8) in his local area, where he supports his community by not just focusing on the physical side of fitness, but also on the role sport and exercise plays in mental health, by giving young people a safe place to express themselves in either a martial arts or fitness environment and also give adults the opportunity to form a community within the gym.

Speaking after picking up the award, Dan said: “I grew up on a council estate in Liverpool, you know sport especially performance sport is not looked at, at all. Being given the opportunity to perform in my sport isn’t an opportunity I can give back but it’s an opportunity to enable young people to do the best they can and see all the benefits of sport that I have.

“I always talk about putting different hats on, so when I’m in the dojo I’ve got my Judo hat on, when I’m in the gym I put my work hat on, when I’m at home I have my Dad hat on, without the team that I’ve got, the amazing people at British Judo, without all of these people around me helping me to spin all these plates I would be lost without them. They help my world go round.”

Chris Skelley is no stranger to the PLx Awards having himself won the Social Impact Award in 2020. This year he was joined by teammate and best friend, Jack Hodgson, as the pair won the Spirit of High-Performance Award.

The pair won the award following the change to the IBSA classification and weight categories following the Tokyo Paralympic Games, which now means they will compete against each other for the sole right to represent Paralympic GB at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games in the J2+90kg category. Despite the on-mat rivalry, the pair still remain best friends having met over a decade ago, and have since gone on to be best men at each other’s weddings, with Skelley being named godfather to Hodgson’s daughter.

Chris commented: “To be able to share this journey with Jack means everything and to have the support of British Judo, The National Lottery, UK Sport who believed in me and Jack and the team to let us go around and represent our country is a massive honour. I’m just very grateful for everything they’ve supported us with.”

Jack added: “It’s absolutely heartbreaking [that only one of us can go to the Games] but when we did find out we just went for a coffee together, sat down, looked at each other in the eyes and agreed it is what it is. Whoever goes, goes and whoever doesn’t go will be there as a training partner and that was it. That was the agreement we struck. We continue to encourage each other and critique each other when we’re up against one another. We want to push each other. We’ve always had that mentality, we’re teammates and we’re not going to stop now just because there’s only one space left for the Games. Like I said we’ll be each other’s training partner, the best training partner we can be regardless.”

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