Edinburgh Judoka Sally Conway feels she is starting to find the level of consistency which can hopefully see her grab gold medal glory at this summer’s Commonwealth Games.
The 27-year-old won silver at the German Grand Prix in Dusseldorf last weekend following the bronze she secured at the European Open in Rome a week earlier, taking her medal tally to five in the past 18 months of competing at the top level.
Conway, the current world No.9, suffered defeat at the hands of Moroccan Assmaa Niang in the German final of the Under-70kg Ladies’ event – an outcome she doesn’t consider a setback, instead preferring to focus on what she has accomplished since undergoing surgery to repair shoulder ligament damage sustained while competing at the Olympics in July 2012.
Speaking from Dusseldorf where she has remained to take part in a training camp, Conway said: “We fight the same girls in every competition and it’s always so close when you get to this level. One week you might beat them and then the next week they go and beat you so I was disappointed as I knew the gold was possible but, at the same time, I was happy with my performances throughout the whole day in Dusseldorf.
“Things I have been working on in training are definitely coming through in the competitions now so it’s all going forward in the right direction. I think I am becoming more consistent now with my results which hasn’t always been the case in the past. Being a bit more composed when I am competing and having a clearer idea what I am going out there to do has definitely helped.”
Although a six-week break from competition now beckons for Conway, who has aspirations of retaining the Turkish Grand Prix title she won last year at the end of March, the commitment and intensity of training will provide little respite as she splits her time between Judo Scotland’s headquarters in Ratho, and further afield with more training camps throughout Europe.
She added: “I recently just bought a flat and moved in there in December but it feels like I’ve hardly been in the place. I’m on a plane more than I am in Edinburgh at the moment, but it’s good because I really love competing and doing what I am doing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve got quite a few training camps to go to between now and Turkey.
“You always go out to every competition looking to get that gold medal. I won the Turkish Grand Prix last year so I hope to put in a good performance and to win it again would be fantastic. I want to be Commonwealth, Olympic, World and European champion so I still have a lot of medals to chase after!”
The recent images from Sochi where Team GB collected four medals on their way to equalling their best display since the Winter Games of 1924 allowed Conway to relive some of her own experiences of competing in front of a home crowd in London just over 18 months ago. She admits it whetted her appetite even more for representing Scotland for the first time at a Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this July.
Bristol-born Conway said: “We were in Paris and we watched a bit of the Winter Olympics opening ceremony and it brought back how that felt when I was there in London. I remember walking on to the mat and just heard the crowd roar. It was an amazing feeling and just so overwhelming, so I’ve got no doubt it’s just going to be like that in Glasgow this summer.
“Everyone’s got the buzz and talking about it. When I bump into people they are asking ‘are you competing in the Commonwealth?’, so I can’t wait.
“Since 18 I have been living in Scotland. It feels like home and I know so much about Edinburgh and I love it up here. It definitely feels like I made the right decision all those years ago.”