Judo: Isobel Kitchen selected for Team GB at 2019 European Youth Olympic Festival
Date published: 15 July 2019
Isobel Kitchen (in blue) completes a Samira Bock Throw
Rochdale Judo Club’s Isobel Kitchen, 16, has been selected as part of the British Olympic Association’s 44 athletes to represent Team GB at the Baku 2019 European Youth Olympic Festival in Azerbaijan between 21 and 27 July.
Isobel said: “I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to represent Team GB in Baku.
“To be part of a huge multi-sporting event will be an amazing experience, and it is now that I can see the rewards from the sacrifices I have made and the hard work that I have put in over the nine years that I have been competing in judo.
“When I was younger, I watched athletes like Jessica Ennis-Hill and Gemma Gibbons in the 2012 London Olympics, and it is people like that who have inspired me to push myself in sport.”
Isobel’s coach at Rochdale Judo, Andy Merchant, 5th Dan, said: “Isobel’s selection is reward for eight years of dedication and 100 percent commitment.
“The judo road has not always been smooth for Isobel, sometimes results have gone against her, as have decisions. Come what may, she has always been straight back to training on Monday.
“Looking at her now, it is hard to believe that not so long ago she was ready to quit the sport: testament indeed to the fighting spirit that burns inside her, and proof indeed that all winners sometimes have to dust themselves down, get back up, and go again.
“The next three years are critical in what the future holds, but I believe that Baku is a dress rehearsal for the 2024 games.
“Prior to that, our realistic targets in the short term will be this year’s British Judo Cadet and Junior Champions and the upcoming Commonwealth Judo Games in September.”
When Rochdale Online asked Andy what it means to him to have a student at the festival, he said: “Giving children the chance and pathway to be the very best they can be is incredibly rewarding.
“To see a young person score with something you have spent endless hours working on is a great feeling, and vindicates your decision to put the time in.
“Judo also gave me a career in a different field, so it’s nice to put something back.
“Isobel won’t thank me for saying this, but she already has a small but growing fan base within judo.
“Everybody who trains with Isobel benefits massively from it; I believe that her partner at Rochdale Judo, Jake Brearley, has been inspired by her exploits and trains hard to emulate her.”
Rochdale Judo Club Chairman, Warren Schofield, 7th Dan, said: “Isobel’s selection will mean a lot to the club. Credit also goes to Andy Merchant who gives up a lot of his time and energy coaching Isobel.
“Isobel, along with David Hulme and Jake Brearley, has also been selected to represent Rochdale at the Commonwealth Games this September in Birmingham.
“Rochdale Judo Club’s achievements is down to dedicated volunteers who give up their time and devotion to the club.
“Their dedication goes a long way in helping young people achieve their personal goals in life.”
Mr Schofield continued: “Having judo members in national and international competitions also raises the profile of the club, and in turn makes other members feel proud of their achievements, as we all feel with any one of our judokas who go on and achieve good things.
“It will also help make the local community aware of our presence and hopefully make them want to be involved with the club.”
Baku 2019 will see around 2,500 athletes from 48 European nations come together to compete across 10 Olympic sports from 21-27 July.
Team GB’s athletes, who will all be aged 14-17 at the event, will compete in six of those sports: cycling (six athletes), gymnastics (six), judo (10), swimming (16), tennis (four) and wrestling (two).
Athletics, basketball, handball and volleyball complete the sporting programme in Azerbaijan.
With many athletes already working on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as well as Paris 2024, the European Youth Olympic Festivals play an important role in the development of young British athletes and help them along the route to achieving their own Olympic dreams.
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