Emily buzzing ahead of Bahamas adventure

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On Friday some of the best young sporting prospects in Scotland will head off to the Bahamas for the Commonwealth Youth Games.

Among the members of the team will be talented judoka Emily Ritchie, a 16-year-old from West Lothian who has made quite an impact in judo circles in recent months.

“When I heard that I had been selected to go to the Commonwealth Youth Games I was delighted as were my family and friends because they know how much it means to me and how hard I have worked to get to this point,” Emily said.

“It will be a great honour to represent Scotland on this stage and the last few weeks have been spent training hard in preparation.”

The sixth Commonwealth Youth Games take place in Nassau from July 18 to 23 and 41 athletes have been selected to represent Team Scotland at the multi-sport event.

The athletes, aged between 15 and 18, will compete for Scotland in a number of sports including athletics, beach volleyball, boxing, cycling, judo, swimming and tennis.

Emily Ritchie

Emily took up judo as a youngster because her mother was keen for her to learn self defence – and little did she know at the time that it would spark a love affair with the sport.

“I know it sounds a bit corny, but I really did fall in love with judo,” she recounts.

“At first I just went along for a bit of fun, but a I began moving through my teens I began to take it more seriously, loved learning about the technical aspects to it and the tradition and soon I was competing in local competitions.

“Since then I have been lucky that the sport has taken me abroad quite a few times and I have been lucky enough to meet some great people.

“I know there is a long way to go to make it in the senior ranks, but I am trying to give it my best shot and training hard when I can.

“Balancing sport with my college work and the part-time job that I have can be tough at times, but I am fairly organised and that helps while I am determined to repay the faith my family have put in me.”

A silver medal at the 2016 British under-21 Championships, demonstrating her ability against older opposition, gave Emily great confidence heading into this calendar year.

As a result she had a strong start to 2017 with two bronze medals at the Scottish Open in January in both the Junior and Open events.

From there she recorded a string of victories, including gold at the English Cadet Open and gold in both under-18 and under-21 categories at the Sportif International.

Following victory once again in the under-18 and under-21 events at the Northern Ireland Open, Emily is now the number one ranked under-18 judoka in Great Britain in the over 70kg category.

Last week it was announced that she had been chosen for the Judo Scotland Performance Programme for the period from July to December 2017.

And the athlete who is based in Broxburn, coached by John Buchanan and linked to the Sportif Judo club said:  “I have had a good run of form, but in judo things can change very quickly and I certainly will not be taking my foot off the pedal.

“A lot of judo can come down to preparation because if you are slightly off the pace then you can be punished and a clash can be over in a flash.

“I was recently at a training camp in Germany and those kind of periods where you can focus fully on judo with no distractions are brilliant.

“That period really got me in the mood for the Bahamas and I cannot wait to fly out now!”

Emily, along with her five judo team mates, will become the first judokas ever to represent Team Scotland at a Youth Games with the sport making its debut in Nassau.

“It is brilliant that judo has been included and I know that my team mates and I are keen to do Scotland proud and also show off what a great sport judo is,” Emily concluded.

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