What a come back: 2018 English Champion and Bronze in Russia for Lele

On Saturday 12th of May, GB judo squad player Lele Nairne, a Bradley Stoke Judo Club member, won the bronze medal in Orenburg, Russia. This was her first senior international competition.

What makes her win so special is that there is a huge and very touching story behind this initial senior sporting victory.

Travelling the World as a professional athlete may sound like a wonderful life, and for some individuals it is.  However, Lele’s story has been rather different, inspirational and has been fraught with injuries and difficulties that would have seem most people give up years before.  …NOT Lele!

Her father identified Peter Douglas, the Bradley Stoke Judo Club coach and his team as the ideal partnership for Lele some seven years ago. Shortly after joining BSJC, and under Pete’s diligent tutoring, her judo career took off.  The British judo squad began selecting Lele to fight abroad, and she started winning big medals for the UK.  It was no surprise that at nearly 17 she became a full timer in the GB squad. She had been already identified as a really top player destined for the judo big time.

She threw big and regularly, until one day while training, she threw to the accompanying sound of tearing sinew. Lele had ripper the hamstring muscle off her left leg.  This was a huge set-back and required a surgical operation and many painful and boring months of rehabilitation to become mat fit again.

Eight-months later she started competing once more and soon started winning international medals. Then, while fighting in an International held in Glasgow she heard that terrible sound a second time.  On this occasion it was in her upper arm which at first, she thought she had broken. Unfortunately, she had ripped the rotator-cup in her shoulder which required another painful operation and a further 8 months of daily grind rehab.

Most people would have called it a day, and no one would blame them.  Lele’s biggest strength is her attitude, and she was fighting in contest again just as soon as the British judo coaches allowed. …and once again for a short period, started to win and display her true potential.

Now, they say lighting never strikes twice in the same place, which must be rubbish. No sooner had Lele started to get back into her judo stride than she detached the hamstring of her right leg.

Bad luck would be an understatement for this young and outstanding athlete, who has endured 3 BIG operations inside a 3-year period.  In fact, and due to her injuries, Lele has missed virtually the whole of her junior judo career completely.  To keep going forward she obviously possesses an amazing attitude and a cast-iron mentality to keep getting back up when life has knocked her down so regularly.

However, when you believe you can, there is a good chance that you will, and Lele was about to prove it!

She knew this was her last opportunity to make it happen, and now 20 and senior, she really prepared for her first senior competition on the 5th of May. This just happened to be the English open where she took on all comers to win the gold medal and become the 2018 English champion.

Considering the short time that she has been fighting in-between her unbelievable bad run of injuries, Lele has still managed to be:

  • Selected for 2 European championships
  • Won 7 Euro cup medals, 1 gold, 3 silvers, 3 bronzes, and taken three 5th places.

So, what’s next for Lele?

Big things we hope, and we will be rooting for her!

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