What were your emotions upon selection for the Olympic Games?
I am completely overwhelmed by my selection. This cycle has been one of the hardest qualification’s ever for the Olympics so I am so proud that I managed to directly qualify in such a strong position after everything over the past 5 years.
How are you feeling now as you settle in to Tokyo? What’s it like?
It is incredible over here in the holding camp. Team Ireland really know how to look after their athletes. It’s so peaceful and tranquil here in Fukori in a beautiful setting to finish up the last bit of prep before moving into the village.
How did you get in to Judo/tell us a bit about your journey?
I started judo aged 5 after my 3 older brothers. I was not impressed at first, as I was super shy and it’s put me well out of my comfort zone. But saying that I feel in love with the sport overtime and loved the challenge it gave me.
For people outside the Judo community, can you give us a simple explanation of how it will work for the Games & what to expect?
There are 4 ways to win in judo. There is 1 way to win standing up where you try throw your opponent flat on their back (like a knock out on boxing this ends the fight). You can also win on the ground. Where you either try to hold your opponent for 20 seconds or to get a submission from an armlock or strangle
What do you wish people knew more about Judo?
That it teaches you so many value life lessons! Particularly how to be resilient
What are your ambitions heading into Tokyo?
I want to have a good performance in Tokyo. I know a good performance means I will be on the podium but my focus is to take it one fight at the time and not think too much about the end product.
Your brother Ben has also qualified for the Olympics, how did that feel?
It’s incredible to have Ben here with me. He qualified for Rio and I didn’t, which was tough. I was so happy for him, but disappointed for myself. So it was a real mixed bag of emotions. This time it really is indescribable to be here together. I am very proud of us both!
In June you fought for a bronze medal at the World Championships in Hungary, the highest level ever by an Irish judoka – what was that experience like?
The day is one I will remember forever. I fought the best I had fought in a long time, missing out on the bronze medal but having some very tough and long fights on the way to that point. I am still irritated with losing for bronze still today; but there were so many positives to bring forward into the Olympics so that is what I am focusing on now!
What does it mean to you to represent Ireland?
I feel so very proud to be representing Ireland at the Olympic Games. I am the athlete I am because of the support I have received and the incredible network Ireland has provided me over the years. I hope I do everyone proud next week
You are a teacher by trade but took a break for Tokyo. How hard was that decision?
It was an easy decision. I love teaching but trying to balance 2-3 session per day around a school day was very challenging at times. When I was able to stop working then I did. It’s so important to be able to focus all your energy on your sport, particularly at certain times so I feel very lucky I have been able to do that.
What’s it like to be a role model for your students?
I feel very privileged to have become a role model for my students. I hope that some of the advice I have given them when they needed it will help them in the future!
Tea or coffee? Tea
Cats or dogs? 100% dogs!
Night in or night out? Ohh tricky one! I really like both
Always early or always late? Always always late! I try not to be but end up always cutting it too fine.
Olympic tattoo – yes or no? I think so but not the rings. I have an Olympic themed tattoo in mind
Best piece of advice you’ve heard? Always try to be better than the person you were yesterday
Something you’ll bring to Tokyo? Cadbury’s Carmel
First phone call after an event? Boyfriend or mum
If not judo what other sport would you compete in? Tricky one. I like to play lots of sports but am not that great at any others to be honest! Haha!
One word to describe yourself as an athlete? Resilient