Express & Star

Confidence high among Walsall judo hopefuls

Daniel Powell insists the Walsall-based Team England judo team should ‘definitely’ come top of the medal table at the Commonwealth Games.


Powell, from Sutton Coldfield, is one of 14 judokas from the University of Wolverhampton’s Walsall Campus that will be out to impress at the Coventry Arena.

The -73kg competitor believes they will sweep up as he said: “I’d back us to get the most medals in the judo, definitely.

“We’ve got a mixture of youth and experience. Everybody has justified their spot in the team.

“Being the home nation, we’ve got 14 athletes, the most of any nation, so we should definitely be top of the medal table.

“Preparation has been going well. We don’t stop anyway as we have other competitions to compete for, so this is just another one.

“But it’s also in the back of our minds that it’s a bit more important. We’ll all be ready when we get there.”

Another one of the hopefuls is Emma Reid, who lives in Walsall and won gold at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam last year.

“I did quite a lot of competitions at the beginning of the year and have had some good results,” said Reid.

“It’s all been building up to the Commonwealths and things have been heading in the right direction.”

“I went to uni in Coventry and that will be exciting as the judo is at the stadium.

“It’ll be nice to compete there having been there before to watch the rugby and football.

“I’ll just be looking into the crowd thinking ‘this is weird, but amazing’.

“If I can do well at the Commonwealth Games, the next one after that is the world championships. So, it would set me up really well for my career.”

Acelya Toprak and Sam Hall, who are a couple, are both set to represent Team England as well.

“I’m really excited because I wasn’t really around for the last Commonwealths,” said Toprak.

“This one I can’t wait for it as it’s a home Games as well, and being part of the team is great.

“I’m really looking forward to competing and the whole environment.”

Away from Team England, Rebecca Adlington is looking to claim a second successive gold for Team Scotland.

The Shrewsbury-born star went all the way in Glasgow in 2014 and has the chance to follow it up after judo was not included for the Gold Coast Games four years ago.

Natalie Powell, from Powys, is also aiming to claim a second straight gold medal as she represents Team Wales. No judoka has managed to win back-to-back golds in Commonwealth history – the sport only becoming mandatory as of these Games.