We're counting down to the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 by getting to know our Welsh judoka a little better. Here, Natalie Powell (Irfon Judo Club) shares her judo journey so far...
How and when did you get into judo? Why did you choose judo?
I was 8 years old when I started judo. My Mum had heard a few of my friends in school were doing judo at the local club and took me along. I was a very active child, I loved play fighting with my dad in the house. I think my Mum was pretty fed up with us breaking things so decided judo might be a good idea to channel that energy.
What was your reaction when you found out you’d been selected for the 2022 Commonwealth Games? What was your family and friends’ reaction?
I was really excited to be selected to compete at my second Commonwealth Games. Competing for Wales is always extra special for me, as the CW’s is the only time in judo we get to compete under the Welsh flag. I had a fantastic experience in Glasgow 8 years ago and am excited for the challenge to repeat it.
What aspect of the Games are you most looking forward to most?
Competition day is always my favourite part. The feelings you get in the lead up are like nothing I’ve experienced in any other aspect of my life. When I retire, this is the part I’ll miss most.
Who has been your greatest mentor in your judo career so far?
Darren Warner, he became my coach in 2014. He’s helped me achieve things I never believed was possible. His knowledge and support throughout my career both on and off the mat has been invaluable. I feel very lucky that he stepped into my life and continues to be the best mentor I could wish for.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned from judo?
The harder you work, the luckier you become!
What is your fondest judo memory to date?
I have numerous memories from my judo career. I think winning a World Bronze Medal in 2017 was particuarlly special for me. My coach (Darren) was able to come out too coach me and my mum and dad came out to watch. It was a really special day for me.
What does wearing the Team Wales uniform and representing Wales mean to you?
Sport Wales and Welsh Judo have supported me since the very beginning of my career. Even when I got on the British Team they continued to be an incredible support network. Being able to represent them makes me very proud.