Judo star Chris Skelley aiming for final Paralympics dance
Chris Skelley MBE will be aiming to mark his final Paralympics by becoming the first British judo para-athlete to retain their medal in more than 25 years.
The partially-sighted judo star won gold at the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021 and can secure crucial qualification points for next year's Paralympics in Paris at the 2023 IBSA World Games in Birmingham.
The Tokyo games were delayed by a year and overshadowed by crowd restrictions, which deprived Skelley of the opportunity to fight in front of his closest friends and family. But Skelley is looking to make up for lost time and will use the upcoming IBSA World Games in August as his "mini-Tokyo".
Skelley said: “In Tokyo I was upset because my family wasn’t allowed to be there and see me fight, so the World Games in Birmingham are going to be my ‘mini-Tokyo’ if you like.
“I am going to have my wife there along with my mum, sisters, god children, best friends and all the other people that have helped me along the way.
“I think it will be nice for them to see me fight and get more qualification points for Paris.”
But at the age of 29, Skelley has announced he will draw the curtain on his judo career at the end of the Paris Paralympics.
Skelley recently married GB wheelchair tennis Paralympian Louise Hunt. He has revealed that he wants to move onto the next chapter of his life, but is determined to bow out in style by making history in the French capital.
He added: “I’m not getting any younger – I’m going to be 30 this year. In visually-impaired Judo terms that’s not that old, but I want to move on to the next chapter in my life, and I have been honest with my team that this is going to be my last dance at Paris – and I want to achieve something that’s not been done for a quarter of a century.
“I’ve done judo for 25 years and full time for 10 years, and now I am married, I want to start a family.”
“I’ve been so lucky to do this and meet the people and achieve the stuff I’ve achieved, but at the moment the job is not done, and I’ve been working hard with my strength and conditioning coaches to get me in the best possible shape for the World Games in August.”