A JUDOKA star who grew up in Thornbury is ranked as the favourite to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games tomorrow.
Sally Conway is the number one seed in the women’s -70kg category and will have to deal with an expectant home crowd at Glasgow 2014 after choosing to represent Scotland.
The 27-year-old, who moved to Edinburgh when she was 18 to train full-time, hopes to use the experience she gained from competing at London 2012 to handle the pressure at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) Precinct.
“It is a good position to be in but I think whatever seed I was I would go out with the same attitude and belief that I can perform to my best and come away with a gold medal,” Conway told the Gazette.
“There is definitely more pressure. Every time I compete I put pressure on myself but there is slightly more pressure in front of a home crowd with more people watching than I’m used to experiencing but I can’t let the pressure get to me.
“I’ve been living here nine or ten years so it felt right to fight for Scotland. It was my choice and I’m looking forward to fighting.
“I experienced a home crowd in London so I’m going to take that experience and bring it to Glasgow. It’s going to be amazing with everyone behind us all.
“All I want to do is perform to my best and get a medal and I want it to be gold.
“My preparation has been going really well. I’ve been training with Judo Scotland. Everyone is feeling well prepared and ready.
“I am feeling fit and strong and injury free, touch wood, so it’s all going well.”
It will be the first time Conway has competed at the Commonwealth Games, with judo returning to the programme for the first time since 2002, and she is in good form having climbed to number six in the world this year.
She needs to stay in the top 14 to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics, and although Glasgow 2014 does not count towards world ranking points it would be a huge boost for Conway’s confidence to scoop a medal at a major championships.
“Outside the Commonwealths everything is going well and I’m getting ready for Rio,” she said.
“I hope to keep improving and hopefully that will be enough to get me there. I’m hoping to get early points and not have to get last minute points.”
Former Thornbury Judo Club member Conway is staying in the Athletes’ Village throughout the Commonwealth Games and hopes to get tickets to cheer on her Team Scotland team-mates in other sports once her event is over.
She said: “I think it’s getting really exciting. It will be good to soak up the atmosphere as well as competing.
“It is a good opportunity to watch other sports and support the rest of Team Scotland.”
Former Chipping Sodbury School teacher Megan Fletcher will also be competing in the women’s -70kg category, representing England.
Fletcher appeared on Nick Grimshaw’s BBC Radio 1 breakfast show in the build-up to the Games this week.
The preliminaries, quarter-finals, semi-finals and repechage will take place between 10am and 4pm on Friday with the gold and bronze medal contests between 6pm and 8.45pm.