Judo star fights to realise Olympic dream

LEWES judo star Sophie Johnstone is fighting to make an Olympics dream come true.

She climbed to the pinnacle of her sport and featured in the elite section of the British National Squad.

But in March last year Sophie suffered a major setback - she snapped an anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee while training in Japan.

It put her out of action and resulted in her funding from UK Sport, via the British Judo Association, being stopped.

Now she is trying to hold down three part-time jobs – as well as constant training – to put herself back in contention for the GB team ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Sophie, 27, started training with the Bridgeview Judo Club in Lewes at the age of eight.

Her talent soon became apparent and she took up judo full-time at 18. A string of successes took her to the top.

She said: “Ever since it was announced in 2005 that London would be hosting the Games, that has been my goal.”

So the knee injury came as a particularly bitter blow. “I was just so frustrated – I had just been selected for the European Championships,” said Sophie. “Now I’ve just got to concentrate on working hard towards recovery and coming back even stronger.”

Bridgeview coach Dave Fielding said: “Sophie has been determined since she was eight years old to compete in the Olympic Games.

“She was right on target until her injury but now faces a dilemma. She has not been included in the National Squad and her funding has stopped. She has to choose now to accept defeat, due to a badly timed injury, or go it alone.

“Sophie has always had the ‘stuff’ that champions are made of and is not one to quit. True to form she has battled on independently to make that final effort to secure a place in the London finals next year.

“Bridgeview has managed to partially fund her ambitions, with the help of family and friends and several sponsors including Lewes Inner Wheel.”

Dave continued: “This is Sophie’s very last chance to achieve her lifetime’s ambition and she needs help.

“If people are able to offer a donation, no matter how small, please contact Bridgeview Judo Club [01273 470759] and do something to put Lewes into the Olympics.”