Tell us about yourself and how you got into your sport!

I’m Kelly Petersen-Pollard, 22, an elite female judoka training full-time at the British Judo Centre of Excellence in Walsall from Hardy Spicer judo club. I was introduced to judo age 4 by my mum and brother at my local primary school and have endeavoured to pursue it as a career ever since!


What do you love about your sport?

Everything, the excitement of anything can happen in judo, one day you can be world champion and the next day you can lose the first round. Respect plays a huge aspect in judo which I also love. You will fight your opponent for 4 or more minutes and win or lose, respectfully bow, shake hands and leave it all on the mat.


What are your career highlights?

Pre Covid, I was Junior World number 1 and 2019 Junior European Champion, Senior European Open gold medallist and I have been crowned British Champion multiple times. In 2019 I was the Junior Female athlete with the most European medals and British Judo Junior Female athlete of the year, as well as Sutton Coldfield female athlete of the year. This year I travelled to my first senior grand slam and came away with a 7th place finish.


What is your training schedule? And how do you prepare physically and mentally for competition?

My training schedule is pretty full on, training 5 days a week at the national centre in either the mornings or afternoons doing: strength, conditioning, randori (Judo fighting) and technical. I also train away from the centre with my club coach, working on speed, running and a lot of technical analysis. Preparing for a competition I like to ensure my weight is on point through healthy eating and refuelling after sessions. My S and C coach changes my strength power sessions to explosive and I also concentrate a-lot on speed. Mentally I like to read, listen to podcasts and keep myself to myself in order for the best preparation.


Have you had any big setbacks? How have you overcome these?

My biggest barrier and set back so far in my career has been the Covid-19 pandemic. Mentally it was tough, being unable to train at the national centre for over 5/6 months and go abroad for valuable camps and competitions was difficult. However, setting myself weekly timetables and training schedules helped keep me on top of my training. Writing my sessions, feelings, weekly goals, and my nutrition in a diary also kept me in elite shape physically and mentally.


What is your next goal? How do you plan to get there?

My next goal is to medal at the Croatia Grand Prix in September this year. I will aim to achieve this through hard work, lots of training and dedication every single day.


How do you think women’s sport can get to the next level?

I think to help women’s sport get to the next level using media to create a better profile of me, as an athlete and as a female fighter, would not only benefit me, but encourage young girls and women to take part in combat sport and help promote British judo. Combat Sports often come with a masculine connotation attached. I will use my platform to strive to change the mindset of women in fighting sports, and encourage females out there to give it a try. Not only will the media help encourage female judoka, it can be used to motivate any female to be the best at any sport if they put their mind and all into it.


What is your advice to young girls who want to make it to the top?

Have fun, enjoy the process and always make sure you are putting your all into everything you do.


What is your favourite motivational quote, and why?

Start where others stop. It’s very simple and short but it works. Day in, day out, I use this quote to motivate myself to do more, not just more physical training as rest is as important but mentally. As well as, a good diet, good sleep, good technical and also analysis. Because if i’m not doing 110% and working on all the small 1%’s, my opponents will be able to find a margin to beat me. A great quote which links to this is, never be too big to do the small things that need to be done!

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