Strong judo presence at SportsAid’s 2014 SportsBall

British Judo athletes showcased their sport as guests arrived to celebrate with SportsAid at the charity’s SportsBall in London, which is held every year to raise money to help the next generation of athletes, writes Donna Richardson.

Cadet European and Youth Olympic bronze medallist Peter Miles was joined by twins Tom and Will Johnson who have enjoyed success at university level plus Coventry siblings Chelsie and Joshua Giles.

As they entertained distinguished guests with their moves to raise awareness about their sport, sporting royalty mingled around the room. Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge is the Patron of the charity.

After the event Chelsie, who helped Great Britain to place fifth at the Junior European Championships, said: “I was really excited to do judo at SportsBall with my brother Josh. The whole experience was very exciting and it is nice to be part of a big event.”

Tom added: “It was a great evening representing British Judo last night at the Sports Aid Ball and I was really pleased that I got to meet Roy Hodgson.”

Nekoda Davis inspires Next Generation

During the dinner, Commonwealth Champion Nekoda Davis was invited up on to the stage along with Adam Gemili and Spelbound gymnast Hannah Baughn for a question and answer session.

“This was my first SportsBall and it’s great that it makes such a big deal about the next generation and raises money to help them. It’s got a lovely atmosphere and everyone’s here for the same thing which is to support people and that’s a nice thing to celebrate,” said Nekoda who trains at the centre of excellence.

“I think British sport wouldn’t be doing as well without the likes of SportsAid.

“It’s not just important is actually essential. We need that support because kids don’t get that full backing and support until they reach a certain level so it’s important we can keep them on the path up to that point.”

Nekoda spoke about her own SportsAid journey and how funding helped her.

“My mum is a single mum, so when I started getting better it was really hard for her to pay for it all.

“I was getting a lot of support from my club but whenever I got a SportsAid award, that grant really helped.

“I can never repay my mum or my coach for everything they’ve done for me. I really want to thank SportsAid because I don’t think I would have continued judo if I hadn’t had the reinforcement and recognition that SportsAid gave to us.”

About her appearance for SportsAid she added, “Being up on stage with Adam Gemili and Hannah Baughn from Spelbound was my highlight of tonight, especially after seeing Hannah perform and because Adam is a phenomenal athlete and really down to earth, so it was nice being up there with them.”

Chelsie and Josh Giles

Athlete Morgan Lake won the coveted One-to-Watch award this year and she received her award from England football manager Roy Hodgson.

Previous athletes to win this award have included diver Tom Daley, sprinter Jodie Williams – now the British number one over 200m – and gymnast Courtney Tulloch, who this year competed at the world championships alongside Max Whitlock and Kristian Thomas.

Photos courtesy of SportsAid.