Since the age of 10 I have competed at the highest level in judo. I won my first national title when I was 11 years old and have been on the national team ever since, I am now 23…
After gaining my first title my competitions became much more regular and I began to travel all around Europe, competing at various events and attending training camps.
At 17 I became a junior and my daily training increased dramatically, this had to happen to compete at the highest level. I first started full- time training when I left my local 6th Form College, Thomas Telford, after gaining 3 A Levels. Each day I would drive myself to Walsall University, approximately 25 miles from my parent’s house, to meet my personal coach; here I would complete various sessions either judo specific, or weights and conditioning or cardio vascular work. Money was always an issue as I only received £5,000 per year from the UK Sports Lottery, this was barely enough to cover the costs of travel, my training fees and competitions that weren’t funded by the national governing body the British Judo Association. I began to balance two part time jobs alongside my training. This proved difficult at times, but became impossible when UK Sport withdrew the funding, it was time to get a full time job and decrease my training to two evenings per week to work at the Royal Bank of Scotland. It was then I decided I needed a career and I chose the RAF in 2008.
After completing my basic training at RAF Halton and my trade training at Southwick Park, I was posted to RAF High Wycombe, where I worked for 11 months before I was granted my Elite Athlete status; at this point I moved to the full-time centre at Camberley Judo Club. I trained here for 14 months, chasing my Olympic dream, but money was still an issue, as international competitions can cost up to £400 per tournament. I did as much as I could physically manage and achieved many great results along the way, which I am proud of, however in August 2011 I was still number 2 in Great Britain and this wasn’t enough to keep my Elite Athlete status. I returned to RAF High Wycombe to continue with my duties. I have decided that I will now concentrate on my career in the RAF and put my judo on the back burner but judo will always be a part of me. I volunteered for an out of area tour on my return and I am currently serving in the Falkland Islands.
By SAC Becky Dunning