Each year, October is marked as Black History Month. The month-long observance is dedicated to recognising the achievements and history of black people across the world.
This year’s theme of ‘Saluting our Sisters’ highlights the crucial role that black women have played in shaping history, inspiring change, and building communities.
British Judo will be supporting the ‘Saluting Our Sisters’ theme by paying homage to the remarkable women who have left an indelible mark on the world of judo. We will draw inspiration from their stories of resilience, skill, and leadership, celebrating the often unsung heroines who have shaped our sport.
In the annals of British Judo, the contributions of black female athletes have been nothing short of extraordinary. Among these trailblazers, black British women have carved out a legacy of excellence, demonstrating not only their prowess on the tatami but also their resilience and determination in the face of adversity.
Nekoda Smythe-Davis has had a fantastic career to date that has seen her win two World Championship medals, silver in Baku, 2018, and bronze in Budapest, 2017. In 2014, she represented England at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games winning gold. Nekoda was a volunteer at the London 2012 Olympics before she was selected to represent Team GB at the Rio Games in 2016.
Simone Callender won the World Cups in Warsaw in both 1999 and 2001 in Munich. She participated in World and European Championships. In 2002, she represented England at the 2002 Commonwealth Games winning gold in the +78kg category. Simone is now a professional event manager, and has worked at major events in sports including London 2012 Olympics and the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
Sharon Lee was the 1989 World Championships finalist in Belgrade, claiming silver. In 1988, she took the bronze medal at the European Open and then won the title in 1990. She won European team titles with the British team and the double at the Commonwealth Games in 1990.
The journey of black British women in judo has not been without its challenges. Overcoming stereotypes and barriers, these athletes have demonstrated remarkable resilience, turning adversity into opportunity.
Their achievements serve as a source of inspiration for young athletes, regardless of their background. Their stories remind us that with dedication, passion, and perseverance, any goal can be within reach. They encourage us to celebrate diversity in our sport and recognise the invaluable contributions of athletes from all walks of life.
Explore the Black History Month Resource Pack 2023 for a treasure trove of enriching content, providing a deeper understanding of the trailblazing women who continue to inspire generations.