Louise Kelly is eager to make her Olympic dream a reality, but it won’t be an easy mission.
The Nelson-based judo exponent and New Zealand No 1 has returned from two months training in Scotland and has just competed with the Nelson team at the Oceania Championships in Tonga in the Under-70 class.
The 17-year-old got interested in the sport while watching her younger brother Luke in the dojo when she was 10-years-old.
“I didn’t take to it naturally, I’d be shown something and then I’d have to be shown it 10 times.
“I think that’s why I enjoyed it. I’d have to really work on it, it was a constant challenge.”
Over time she has also got her dad Lindsay back into the sport.
“He used to come down and bring his gear, but never got on the mat until one day he decided it was (too tempting) not to give it a go.”
Louise says this is the year she starts working towards the 2020 Olympics. “I’ll look to head back to the UK and get more exposure and train with more high-calibre people.”
The 19-year-old also has the Junior World Championships later this year.
“It’s going to be a long road to make the Olympics but I believe it’s something that can be achieved.
“In Edinburgh they have centres with good coaches, so I can train there morning and night and make the most of it.”
“I’ve put a plan in place, it’s going to mean I’ll have to do a fair bit of it away from home.”
At her age, she is in her last year classified as a junior which allows her to compete in both the junior and senior grade in an effort to gain experience.