Schools judo: Emma Carroll wins British title
JUDO: Emma Carroll, a 12-year-old pupil at St Margaret’s High School overcame fierce competition to win her age-group title at the British Judo Championships in Sheffield.
Emma Carroll, a 12-year-old pupil at St Margaret’s High School overcame fierce competition to win her age-group title at the British Judo Championships in Sheffield.
And her classmate Aimee Thorpe made it a great day for the Airdrie-based school by taking the bronze medal.
On her Championship debut, Emma battled through five tough rounds to emerge victorious – and she even surprised herself.
“It was a big shock,” she said. “I’ve won medals before but nothing at this level.”
Clare Buchanan, Emma and Aimee’s coach at the Sportif Judo Club, was equally delighted with the youngsters’ outstanding achievements.
“I always knew Emma had a lot of potential and Aimee also did really well,” said Clare. “Emma was up against girls a year older than herself so she should be very proud. In a few years’ time she’ll be looking to qualify for the youth Olympics.”
Denise Burke, head teacher at St Margaret’s also recognised the success and commented: “They are real all-rounders and absolutely committed to judo. And you can tell – for Emma and Aimee to be at this level is just incredible.”
Emma first became involved in the sport through North Lanarkshire Council’s Active Schools initiative, which enabled the Sportif team to visit her primary school. “I was eight when they came and gave a demonstration and I’ve loved it since then,” said Emma.
The initiative aims to increase and sustain youth participation in sport by creating, supporting and sustaining a network of volunteers, coaches, leaders and teachers, and facilitating closer links between sports clubs, primary schools and high schools.
Each of the scheme’s 23 Active School co-ordinators covers an average of six primary schools and one high school.
Community Sport Hubs, such as St Margaret’s, act as a base for clubs – by the end of this year there will be 11 sites across North Lanarkshire.
The scheme has proven a great success in the past year, with the number of clubs involved in North Lanarkshire now numbering 87 with 4,610 participants.
Clare has no doubt the initiative has played a part in Emma’s success.
She said: “I can’t emphasise how important Active Schools and the Hub are. The facilities are great, and Active Schools help us with anything we need, whether it’s advice or help buying equipment.
“They also get us involved in any school events and just make it much easier to keep in contact with the kids. The exposure of the sport they allow is invaluable.”
St Margaret’s Head Teacher Denise Burke agrees. “The Hub is an amazing thing for the kids, the school and the wider community,” she said. “And the work of Active Schools means it is buzzing with activity every evening.”
Although other Sportif students have tasted glory in school and Scottish competitions, Clare is hoping Emma and Aimee’s success will spur even more of the members on to even greater achievements.
“It shows the other kids that success at that level is achievable,” she said. “With enough hard work, they can do the same. Emma, Aimee and a few of the others are already at the top of their game. They just need to knuckle down and stay there. If they do that, there’s no reason why they can’t reach the top levels of the sport.”
Much like her coach, Emma has high hopes for her future in judo, both in the short and long term. “We’ve got the Midlands Open next week – I’m hoping for another medal,” she said.
And long term, maybe even the Olympics? She smiled, but didn’t disagree.
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