Judoka Kelly Petersen-Pollard is starting to make her mark at senior level after recently being crowned British champion in the -70kg category. The Hardy Spicer Judo Club member is heading into her final year as a junior in 2019 and has set her sights on the Junior European Championships and the Junior World Championships before looking to plot her path towards her Olympic dream.
The 19-year-old, who has been supported by SportsAid throughout 2017 and 2018, sees the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games as a key stepping-stone on her journey and is eager to represent Team England in her home city. Kelly is also studying for a BSc (Hons) Exercise and Health degree at the University of Wolverhampton and has long-term ambitions outside of her judo commitments.
What did it feel like to win both the junior and senior titles at the British Championships?
“This year junior trials proved a lot more difficult than previous years with good new players coming into the -70kg category. My preparation leading up to the event with my coaches Fitz and Dave was really good. I went into the competition feeling good and took each fight at a time. Winning the Junior British Championships for my final year and the fourth year in a row really topped it off. Also winning my first Senior British Championships has made me feel confident and looking forward to next year and my senior career.”
What does 2019 have in store for you?
“2019 is my last year as a junior athlete. I am aiming to compete abroad and get some European Cup medals to qualify me to compete at the Junior European Championships in Finland and the World Championships. I’m also concentrating on my studies on the side and completing my first and second year at university.”
What are your main sporting aims in the long-term?
“Since the age of four when I first stepped on the judo mat my aim was to compete on the world and Olympic stage. In Birmingham, my hometown, in 2022 is the Commonwealth Games. That is a huge goal which I’m also trying to set my sights on and aim for.”
How do you find balancing your sport with education?
“I must admit balancing full-time education and more or less full-time judo is really hard. Some weeks are more tiring than others but my coaches and the university really help me out by scheduling my judo and my gym around my studies.”
Do you have a potential career pathway which interests you aside from judo?
“At university I will be doing my Level 2 and 3 gym instructor and personal training courses so finding a job along those lines would be great. I would love to go into nutrition and diet to aid my judo. That would be my main goal.”
What difference has the support from SportsAid made?
“Being recognised as a SportsAid athlete gives me a great confidence boost and makes me feel part of a big team with other athletes. The money I have received from SportsAid has funded me to travel abroad with England and Great Britain and to travel to Japan for two weeks this year in May. My trip to Japan consisted of a lot of judo and a lot of learning as well as sightseeing and getting around for two weeks with no parents which was a huge experience.”
Lastly, how important has the support of your family been to you in pursuing your sporting ambitions?
“My family are my biggest supporters and support me and push me every day in my judo, helping me to perform and do my best. My judo club (Hardy Spicer) is also like one huge family all working together and motivating each other to be the best.”
What will you do to #SupportTheNext generation of British sporting heroes? SportsAid needs your help to ensure talented athletes like Kelly can continue receiving the backing they rely on. You can make a regular donation to the charity and have a significant impact on the country’s sporting future.
PHOTO CREDIT – Mike Varey (elitepix)