Londoners Nekoda Davis and Philip Awiti-Alcaraz are just two of the young judo athletes representing Great Britain at the Junior European Championships this weekend (from 20 to 22 September) in Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina.
It is shaping up to be quite a year for both lightweight Davis (-57kg) and heavyweight Awiti (-100kg), with senior events thrown into the mix alongside the junior calendar as they transition into the senior team.
Now, both fresh from their debut at the Senior World Championships in Rio, it is time to go all out for a medal in the 2013 Junior European Championships.
Earlier this year, Davis from Ealing, won bronze at the Lisbon European Open at senior level, and struck gold as a junior in Kiev.
“I’m experiencing, mixed emotions really,” Davis revealed before the event. “I am feeling excited and nervous at the same time. It feels good to have a second stab at my last European Championships as a junior. This year I want to do myself justice as I felt last year in Croatia did not go well for me on the day.”
Fresh from the World Championships in her debut as a senior she added: “If I perform the way I know that I can, especially off the back of Rio, I know I will do myself and those supporting me proud, especially my club at Ealing.”
Awiti-Alcaraz (-100kg), Enfield also gained a gold medal at the Junior European Cup while transitioning into the senior squad.
“I feel strong, and ready,” said Awiti-Alcaraz. “I’ve put in a lot of hard work up until now so I feel good on the physical side of things. Mentally I know I can do it, it’s just a case of me holding it together and keeping focused.”
Three members S.K.K Judo Club in Merseyside have also been selected to compete for Team GB.
Two sisters Bekky Livesey (-57kg) and Amy Livesey (-70kg) from St Helens are off to Sarajevo along with Jodie Myers (+78kg), from Liverpool.
For Bekky, who celebrates her 18th birthday over there, and Jodie it is their debut at this level. Amy, 19, has competed three times.
The other selected squad members are: Hayley Willis (-48kg) who trains at Stratford, Jade Lewis (-52kg) of WJA Academy in Wales, Jemima Yeats-Brown (-63kg) of Tonbridge Club, Jemima Duxberry (-63kg) of Devizes and Natasha Maslen (-70kg) of Tora, Lucas Rowe (-60kg) of Hardy Spicer, Sam Hall (-60kg) of Ryecroft, Connor Ireland (-60kg) of WJA Academy, Wales and Max Stewart (-81kg) of Lordswood Boys.
In addition, Kirsty Powell (-57kg) WJA Academy, Wales has been selected as a non-travelling reserve.
The action begins at 10:00 local time, 11:00 BST. Keep up to date with pools and score sheets at www.ippon.org or follow our British Judo Association facebook and twitter.
Words by Donna Richardson. Photos Mike Varey.