Caitlin Barber, Isobel Kitchen and Niamh Southgate

GB Judo Welcome Three GB Judoka to its World Class Performance Programme

GB Judo has welcomed three young judoka to the GB Judo World Class Performance Programme.

Caitlin Barber (Coach: Chloe Cowen and Garth Illingworth; Club: Gateshead JC and Middlesbrough JC), Isobel Kitchen (Andy Merchant and Seth Birch; Huddersfield JC) and Niamh Southgate (Mark Purllant; Black Dog JC) will train at the National Training Centre full-time alongside the GB Judo squad.

Kitchen is no stranger to the National Training Centre as she is currently in her second year studying Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Wolverhampton and is based at the Walsall Campus. Kitchen has represented GB Judo at Cadet European Championships and Team GB at the European Youth Olympic Festival. In 2020 Kitchen claimed silver at the Fuengirola Cadet European Cup after winning gold at the Chania Cadet European Cup in 2019.

Southgate, like Kitchen, competes in the -57kg category and will continue to study Health and Social Care at College whilst training full time at the National Training Centre. Southgate is a multiple national champion and recently represented Team GB at the European Youth Olympic Festival, finishing 5th.

-48kg fighter Barber, who is a multiple British Championship medallist, will work part-time in the British Judo Association Head Office as an Administration Assistant alongside her training, a path recently trod by recent Commonwealth Champion and Abu Dhabi Grand Slam gold medallist Emma Reid.

Head of Performance Operations Tim Ellis said:It’s really exciting to bring these 3 young fighters onto the GB Judo World Class Performance Programme (WCPP). All 3 of them have come through the GB Futures Programme in recent years designed to support the transition from cadet to junior. Hopefully, this will be the next step and give them the best chance to succeed in the senior ranks.

“Niamh is the first fighter to come through the England Pathway from REDS to ETD onto the GB WCPP. With the interruptions in competition over the last 2 years, it was brilliant to see her perform at EYOF this year, Niamh certainly has an exciting future.

“Isobel has shown real grit to overcome a big injury and has impressed the coaching team as one of the England TASS fighters training out of the National Training Centre. I don’t think there has been a harder-working fighter come through the programme in the last few years. Isobel will certainly keep the more senior fighters on their toes.

“Caitlin came through GB Futures Programme in 2017 and has shown real potential at -48kg. Previously winning a strong British Championships and impressing the coaching team at the recent GB Training Camps. She will be following in the footsteps of Emma Reid by working in Head Office to support her training, which is testament to the commitment to support fighters holistically. 

“It’s really exciting to see what all 3 can do given the opportunity to train full time in one of the strongest women’s training groups in the world. We have a carefully constructed transition programme lined out to support building their training volume as it will be tough on and off the mat. I am sure they will add a lot to the training group and we are really looking forward to seeing how they grasp the opportunity with both hands.”

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