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Emma Reid overcomes injury for career highlight judo gold at Birmingham Commonwealth Games

Emma Reid won a gold medal at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Picture: Team England (58444762)
Emma Reid won a gold medal at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Picture: Team England (58444762)

By James Reid, Sportsbeat

They say never meet your heroes, but how about beating them?

Melbourn Judo Club member Emma Reid claimed Commonwealth gold on Wednesday by beating “idol” Natalie Powell in front of a packed-out Coventry Arena.

Reid produced the performance of her career to overcome 2014 gold medallist Powell, edging a hard-fought contest by a singular waza-ari.

The 27-year-old has had her injury troubles but revealed the hard times were all worth it now she was a Commonwealth champion.

“I haven’t fought her since I was 16 and she won. She was my idol when we fought then and she still is now, but we’re on the same level now,” said Reid.

“It was really nice to fight her – you grow up looking at people in your weight so to go on and fight them, and beat them, feels quite surreal.”

Reid had elbow surgery in 2019 after serious damage to her tendons and admitted there were times when she did not believe she would be at a major Games but praised her mental fortitude as much as her physical strength.

“Because I’m a bit older I’m like ‘is this the last injury, is it time to pack up?’,” added Reid.

"But when you get to rehab, you think ‘no, I’ve still got it’.

“You can train as hard as you want but people forget about the mental side.

“For me, that’s what makes the difference on the day. You must dig in, think you’re the best and do it.

“I was worried, there was still a minute left so I thought I can’t avoid the situation. I had to be strong and defend her grip.

“I always doubt myself and when it happens, I’m like ‘oh my god, I’ve done it’. To do it in front of my parents and all my friends, it’s the highlight of my career.”

A Commonwealth gold medal seemed a long way off when Reid was having surgery on her elbow three years ago, and the 27-year-old judoka admitted it could have been very different if not for support of the National Lottery and knows its funding will be key for a tilt at Paris 2024.

“If it wasn’t for the National Lottery helping me get it done, I’d have had to fund it myself and it would have taken longer through the NHS.

“I tore the ligament off the bone so needed surgery to stick the ligament back on.

“I’m on the National Lottery funding so I just want to keep going through the stages and hopefully that support will help me get to the Olympics.”

* National Lottery players raise more than £30million a week for good causes including vital funding into sport – from grassroots to elite. Find out how your numbers make amazing happen at: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtag: #TNLAthletes.

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