Basingstoke judoka Shelley Ludford believes her desire for medals is only going to go up after being selected as part of a prestigious sporting partnership.
Picked out as a potential star of the future, 18-year-old Ludford is one of 50 athletes chosen to receive financial assistance and mentoring from the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) in partnership with SportsAid.
And with the European Championships on the horizon this very year, there’s hardly a better time for the teenager to get a much-needed boost in her bid for glory.
The Brighton Hill star has already had a taste of the European stage but, set to enjoy funding for a fourth year, is now hopeful it can lead to a medal or two round her neck.
“The funding has allowed me to travel to European competitions. I’ve been to Belgium, Portugal, Spain and all over through SportsAid – it’s expensive to go out and compete and the funding is a massive help,” she said.
“I’m so grateful. It’s helped me out massively, especially with kit.
“My highlights so far include going to the European Championships last year. I only did the team event because I’m first year junior, so I’m quite young in my age group. We came fifth.
“I’m hoping to go to the Europeans again this year, but not just for the team event, to actually compete in my weight group, which is -70kg.”
Ludford’s cause will be now helped by the support she will receive from RBC and SportsAid with an annual £1,000 award contributing to costs such as travel, accommodation and equipment.
This year’s RBC athletes stretch across 31 disabled and non-disabled disciplines with the individuals having been nominated to SportsAid by their sport’s national governing bodies. That will see the Basingstoke College of Technology student follow in the footsteps of star athletes Jessica Ennis-Hill and Mo Farah.
Ludford, who competes in the women’s 70-78kg category, is hoping to take what started as a bit of fun to the very top.
“I started when I was about 10 at Paul Jones School of Judo,” she said.
“When you start getting medals it spurs you on to do more and you meet new friends as well.
“I started taking part during primary school. I’ve been on the programme for three years and it’s helped me out massively.”
Royal Bank of Canada, one of the largest banks in the world and Canada’s largest by market capitalisation, partners with SportsAid to provide financial support, ongoing mentoring and deserved recognition to 50 young talented British athletes.