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Guides: Young Sports Personality of the Year

Last Updated: Saturday December 02 2006 11:06 GMT

Scarlett Woolcock - Judo

Judo player Scarlett Woolcock
Sport: Judo
Born: 18-02-90
Hometown: Newton Abbott, Devon
Achievements: Silver medal at the European Cadet Championships 2006. Unbeaten in Great Britain in her age group for the past two years and is British number one. Has been competing for Great Britain for the last three years.

When did you start?

I started judo when I was four years old. I got into it when my dad's friends went along and I went with them. I really enjoyed it and just carried on.

What I love about judo is that it's not really a girly girl sport; I'm not really a girly girl!

It involves a lot of fitness and strength and you have to train for that outside judo, so that you're fit and strong enough for the contests.

How often do you train?

I usually do judo twice a week on weekdays, and then at the weekends I normally do either training or competitions.

Every morning I go running and usually on the days I don't do judo I go to the gym to work on my strength and fitness.

When we train we have to practise the same drills and throws over and over again, until it becomes instinct. That way when you're in a contest you just throw naturally and hopefully win.

How did judo get started?

Judo was started by a man in Japan called Kano Jigoro who was being bullied. He was quite skinny and wanted a way to beat the other people.

He came up with a sport that mixed up other martial arts and made it possible for a smaller person to beat a larger person with technique not just strength.

Judo means the "gentle way", and although it doesn't look that gentle there is no punching or kicking involved. It might look quite tough but it's not that harmful to you.

You learn how to fall properly - called a break-fall - and it doesn't really hurt that much.

What's it like when you compete?

Competing at international level used to be nerve-wracking but I'm getting used to it now.

When I go abroad I get nervous when I fight foreign people because they look so much bigger than the people I fight in Britain but the nerves are good and get you ready for the competition.

Focus is very important in judo. If you lose focus for a split-second you could get thrown or pinned.

You have stay focused for the whole five minutes which can be quite tough sometimes.

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