Imogen Ranner bound for the Bahamas for Commonwealth Youth Games
Netherhall judo star to represent Team England
A week-long break in the Bahamas would be idyllic for some, but Imogen Ranner will be taking her fighting spirit to the Caribbean island.
The 17-year-old Netherhall Sixth Form student is not jetting off to the West Indies for pleasure, she is heading there on a medal mission at the Commonwealth Youth Games.
Ranner has been named in the Team England judo squad for the multi-sport event that runs from July 19 to 23, and she will be taking another step in a sport to which she was first introduced 12 years ago.
“I started judo when I was five or six and you can start competing at the age of eight,” said the Melbourn Judo Club member.
“My sister wanted to try judo and I came along with her because I was the little sidekick, I think. And she gave up after three weeks and I just kept on going.
“I tried ballet beforehand, and my ballet teacher described me as the fairy elephant of the group – it crushed my dreams of being the next Darcey Bussell!
“I then started judo after that and it just kind of suited me as I’m not built for dancing!”
Ranner seems so calm and composed, but it is all about channelling that inner aggression on the mat, and winning remains part of her main motivation in the sport.
But she admits that qualifying for the team for the Bahamas was not a primary goal at the start of the year.
“I did want to get selected at the beginning of the year for something because it’s the last year I have in this age group [at cadet level],” she said.
“But I didn’t know about the Bahamas until a bit later on in the year. I’m in a three-year age group at the moment, and I’m right at the end of it.
“I’d worked hard so you always hope that you can get a call-up and when you do, you have to keep it a secret for a while as it’s not allowed on any social media or anything and then eventually you are allowed to tell people.”
The call-up to the squad came after accruing ranking points during competitions throughout the year, but as to the actual competition in the Bahamas, it remains a case of heading into the unknown.
“I think because it’s the first year judo has been introduced, the standard of the Bahamas competition will be high but it hasn’t been quite set yet,” said Ranner, who is a first dan black belt.
“I’m not overly sure [of targets]. I’m definitely going to go out to try to win because there would be no point in going there if I didn’t. I want to fight as well as I can and win a few fights.”
As to her future in the sport, there are no long-term goals just yet.
“As long as I’m enjoying it, I will keep on doing it and keep going,” she said. “Probably the winning [is the main motivation]. I’m a very, very competitive person. I love the sport to bits as well.”
Ranner combines her judo training and competitions with studying for a media diploma at Netherhall, and head of sixth form Karim Marsaoui said: “The sixth form are immensely proud of Immy’s achievements.
“I’ve known Immy since she was at Sawston and in Year 7, and to see her compete and be successful, as well as balancing her studies, is great.
“She is not only competing at a high level, she is on course to achieve academically at a high level as well.”