Sophie is the national champion!

PUBLISHED: 15:51 18 October 2007 | UPDATED: 21:50 29 May 2010

Sophie Daniels with her gold medal

Sophie Daniels with her gold medal

Young judo star Sophie Daniels is celebrating after being crowned National Champion of Great Britain at the weekend. The 16-year-old from Newport won the gold medal at the National Championships held in Sheffield, with three victories in her 16 to 18-year

Young judo star Sophie Daniels is celebrating after being crowned National Champion of Great Britain at the weekend.

The 16-year-old from Newport won the gold medal at the National Championships held in Sheffield, with three victories in her 16 to 18-year-old age group.

Sophie, who is a member of Saffron Walden Judo Club, had been training every day for the tournament and is now Great Britain's number one in the D Band, (16 to 18 years).

"I've been training hard all year and this makes it all worth it," said the Saffron Walden County High School sixth form pupil.

"It's the main ranking tournament so the most important competition of the year and it means everything to me.

"I've had success abroad this year so I was expecting to do well and I was really pleased with how it went.

"It guarantees me a place in the national squad for next year and I'm looking forward to going to a lot more competitions abroad."

Her first contest was against a very capable older player, Laura Hogg from the Riverside Judo Club, but Sophie immediately put her opponent under massive pressure with dominant gripping and attacking judo.

Sophie's continual pressure eventually reaped its rewards giving her the victory.

The youngster's second contest was again against one of the very best players in this division, Moberly Judo Club member, Kelly Alexander.

Sophie got an early score on the board, with a neat Tomoe-Nage, which was quickly followed up with another scoring Tomoe-Nage.

During a groundwork exchange she brilliantly manoeuvred her opponent into her favourite arm lock Juji-Gatame to take the win by submission and book herself a place in the final.

From the opening seconds of the final it was Sophie who appeared in control against the British number one, Kerry Ford, from Westcroft Judo Club.

She totally dominated her opponent with superior gripping, tactics, strength, fitness and skill. Her opponent could not live with the level of pressure that she imposed and was eventually penalised for inactivity.

Sophie continued to see out the remainder of the final in the same fashion to secure the gold medal.

"When I saw the draw I knew I could be in the final and then I just had to wait to see who I would face," she said.

"I've fought Kerry a few times before and she's beaten me in the past so I was really happy to fight her and win."

Saffron Walden Judo Club head coach Allen Goddard said: "For me personally this was a very proud day indeed. To have coached Sophie from the very first day she stepped on the mat as a scrawny little 12-year-old to be at matside with her just four years later to see her become National Champion has been an incredible privilege."

Buoyed by this success, Sophie has high hopes for the future.

"I want to be a full-time athlete and I'm looking to make the 2012 Olympics or the one after," she said.

"I don't care which one, I just want to get to an Olympics - that's my main goal.

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