Sally Conway has today announced her immediate retirement from judo, calling time on a career that started over 26 years ago and has seen her become only one of two British female judoka to medal at the Olympic Games, World and European Championships and the Commonwealth Games.
The 34-year old will go down as one of Great Britain’s most accomplished athletes with some of the fiercest newaza skills that the world stage has ever seen.
Speaking about why she has chosen to make the decision now, Sally said: “I always said to myself ‘I will know when the times comes, and I am ready to stop’ regardless of results and performances. I wanted to know and feel when the right time to stop was.”
“I think had Tokyo 2020 gone ahead as planned last year, I 100% would have competed. The last year has given me a lot time to take a step back and reflect on the future and some may question the timing with Tokyo less than 6 months away, but in my heart I feel like now is the right time to take that step back.”
“I am so happy with what I have achieved within the sport and how my career has gone that I feel that is it for me now and I’m ready to close this chapter and see what the future holds.”
“I read my statement to my family last week and we all got quite emotional, but it was very much happy tears as we remembered all the good times and what we have been through.”
Reflecting on her impressive career, Sally recalled winning bronze at the Rio Olympic Games and World Championships in 2019 as her career highlights along with her victory at the Paris Grand Slam in 2018.
“The Worlds are special as it was my eighth World Championships. I also think my Paris Grand Slam gold was also my eighth appearance at the competition too.”
“That is something that is testament to my career, I have never given up. I always try to better myself and be the best that I can be. These results never ‘just happen’ there has been a lot of hard work behind the scenes that has gone into achieving these performances.”
“What made me so successful was having to deal with those losses earlier in my career. I have learnt so much from the low times that I was able to achieve the great performances later on and it made those successes all the sweeter knowing the journey I have been on.”
Talking about what she is going to miss being on the competitive international circuit Sally said: “I am going to miss travelling with my friends. I will miss being around everybody. Most of the stories that we remember are from travelling to and from competitions and training camps and being around friends.
“Judo has enabled me to make some great friends from all around the world, I will miss seeing them all as there were times that I was spending more time with my judo family than my actual family!”
Looking ahead to what the future holds Sally said: “Going forward I am keeping my options open. I would like to try coaching and pass on my experience to young athletes coming through. I also plan to do sports massage, and I also enjoy public speaking. I am just going to see what opportunities arise and see what I enjoy doing, I am really looking forward to seeing what the future holds. I have learnt so much through judo and being an elite athlete that I know I have a good foundation on which to build upon in the future.”
Image courtesy of Ged Noonan
Images & Quotes – https://www.britishjudo.org.uk/sally-conway-announces-her-retirement/