Commonwealth veterans give inspiration to the next generation

As the Commonwealth Games approach former Commonwealth contenders give their words of inspiration to the next generation of Commonwealth Champions.

Words by Donna Richardson

Karen Roberts, -63kg Champion Commonwealth Games
In 2002 when the Commonwealth Games were held in Manchester, it was a similar predicament to this years Games in Glasgow- Judo had not been included for 12 years so it felt a privilege to be competing. For Judo we only really experience the general public interest in our sport during the Olympic Games, not just interest but understanding of the success. The Commonwealth Games offers up another opportunity. To compete on home This years Games on the back of London 2012 is fantastic for British Judo. Only 14 athletes could represent us in London. In Glasgow this has the possibility of being quadrupled across the Home Countries- giving even more Judoka the opportunity to repay their wider support network, winning a medal in front of them and with them.soil in 2002 was magnificent, it gave my old teachers and school friends, work colleagues, university tutors and of course my wider family the opportunity to support me at an event they understood. Winning in front of them and enjoying the experience with them, went someway to repaying them for their unconditional support through my sporting career.
I am sure the Home countries will come away with the Lion Share of the medals- the colours and by who will be down to the day. They will embark on the experience- potentially of a lifetime, one to enjoy but not be taken lightly. It will be their personal opportunity to show the public how good they are and how great Judo is. Good luck to all the British fighters, I will be watching with baited breath.

David Somerville, Silver Medallist 2002 Commonwealth Games National High Performance Judo Coach for Scotland

“When judo has been included in the Commonwealth Games Scotland has produced strong performances and the team are determined and focused to maintain this record. Our team contains an accomplished balance of experience and youth with, I feel, realistic opportunities for medal success.

“It is great for British Judo that so soon after the London Olympics we have a second home games. I am sure the Scottish pubic will get behind all the home country players but of course for the Scottish players it will be a special moment walking out to fight in front of a passionate home support.

“On behalf of the Scottish Judo Team I would like to thank all our supporters. We look forward to giving a warm Scottish welcome to our judo friends for what will be a great Commonwealth Games.”

Craig Ewers, National Performance Coach for Wales

“At present the Commonwealth Games is the only major event that a Welsh judoka can represent their country on the International stage; given that Judo is an optional sport at Commonwealth Games events; it is an even more special opportunity; and on a personal level, I guess this was one of the major motivators in returning to competitive Judo,” said Craig Ewers.

In Manchester I had three wins but lost the eventual bronze medal match. Although I had trained hard it wasn’t enough for a medal; in my opinion to be a medalist in the men’s middleweight classes takes a huge amount of preparation because of the depth of the categories; in retrospect, at the time I was really a student first and Judo came second; and I had taken it for granted that I would get another chance at a Commonwealth Games in either 2006 and 2010; where I would be in a better position to win.

Unfortunately because of the respective host nations sport selections; that second chance at the Games didn’t come; I suppose this is one of the things I have tried to impress with my athlete’s for Glasgow; to try and make best use of the chance they have; of course you cannot assure winning a medal; but you can try to do everything you can in training, in the build up and on the day of the event; the majority of our selected athletes have sacrificed a lot to train full time in the build up to the event; and their dedication and commitment will hopefully come through in their performances on the day.

Given my qualification to the 2014 team and dual role; we have brought in former GBR national coach Darren Warner to help support the team in the build-up to Glasgow and at the Games itself; Darren will form part of the coaching team in Glasgow alongside another of my former coaches and GBR International Andy Frudd; alongside Team Manager Darren Dean. My role has and will continue to be in the preparation leading into the event; of course at the Games itself I will be there as a sounding board for any of the Welsh players if they need it; but the selected coaching team will allow me to have the head space I need going into competition and I have every faith in their capabilities.

I am really looking forward to the Games itself, actually it can’t come quick enough now! There is a different type of pressure for Glasgow because overall the team result is more important than my own individual result. I think the team aspect is one of the things I have enjoyed most about the build-up to Glasgow; we have a great spirit within the Welsh Judo team and I think this can help us; in what will be no doubt a strong competition.