May 26 2013 Latest news:
By Joshua Richards
Monday, July 16, 2012
But faces a European Cup meeting at the weekend
Competing at London 2012 may have come too soon for Hayley Willis, but the rising judo star got her taste of the Games as an Olympic torchbearer last week, writes Joshua Richards.
The Jo Richardson School student completed her 300 metres leg with the torch through the streets of Hadleigh, in Essex, with her parents among the cheering crowd.
And Willis was delighted to play her part so close to the start of the Games.
She said: “It was great to be a torchbearer.
“It makes the Olympics feel real. The start is so close.
“I’ve got two tickets for judo at the ExCeL, I’m going with my dad and I can hardly wait.”
With little more than a week until the Games begin, Willis will squeeze in a European Cup meeting in Hungary this weekend and is also set to compete in Poland and Berlin before the end of the summer.
By her side, as she clocks up the air miles, will be dad Paul who never misses a meeting and Willis hopes he can keep his nerves in check and spur her on to qualification for the European Championships.
Willis added: “I like that he’s there, but sometimes he panics and gets more nervous than me!
“I’m hoping for selection to the European Championships in Croatia in September.
“The squad is announced in mid-August, so I know I need a few good performances before then. Hopefully I can medal at the European Cup – that’s my aim.”
Richardson, who trains at Stratford Judo Academy and Redbridge Judo Club, will be back in the UK in August to collect her GCSE results.
And despite appearing to have the judo world at her feet the 16-year-old is determined to return to school in Dagenham and complete her A-levels.
She said: “I’m staying on at Jo Richardson to do sociology, biology, history and sport next year.
“Combining training and revising got a bit difficult towards the end of the exams, but the school are very supportive of my judo.”