Livingston judoka Samantha Clark opens 2014 at today’s Scottish Open at Meadowbank with her sights firmly set on this summer’s Commonwealth Games.
A knee injury last year has meant Clark has been playing catch-up to try and secure a place in Team Scotland and she is packing as much as possible into the next few months to make her dream become reality.
With boyfriend Colin Oates, from Norwich, expected to make the English team, it makes for an interesting scenario.
“Will this cause problems? No, as we are both very passionate about our heritage and we both want to be the ones to contribute to each of our country’s medal tally,” the under-52kg player said.
“We are used to being on the same side [for Great Britain] so it will be different. I still want Colin to do well, but, overall, I want Scotland to come out on top.”
Clark was at London 2012 to watch Oates come seventh in his weight category and it has only whetted her appetite to compete in a major Games herself.
“My Commonwealth qualification started in September, a little later than the others, as I was still trying to comeback from my knee injury,” she explained.
“I have competed at four European Cups at the latter end of 2013 and taken two bronzes and two fifth places.
“I am currently placed eighth on the JudoScotland ranking list and in order to qualify I must fall within the top seven.
“So the beginning of 2014 for me, is all about chasing the points alongside putting in good performances.
“It was always going to be an uphill battle for me to qualify for the Commonwealths, but I remain optimistic that I will have my chance to compete.
“The prospect of competing in front of a home crowd is really exciting.
“I was lucky enough to watch Colin compete in London and the crowd really stirred a great performance, so if Glasgow is anything like London, we will be in for a great event.”
Husband and wife Euan Burton and Olympic silver medallist Gemma Gibbons are already resigned to competing for Scotland and England respectively at Glasgow 2014, but Clark believes that such friendly rivalries can only help the sport gain greater exposure.
“I think the most important aspect of the Commonwealth Games is going to be getting the public to interact with the sport of judo again on a prestigious level at an event such as the commonwealth Games,” she argues.
“The public take a great interest in this event and it’s a real chance for the players involved to demonstrate how good a sport like judo can be.”