Interview with Sally Conway

Edinburgh College graduate Sally Conway landed back in the country only a couple of weeks ago with a bronze medal from the Rio Olympics in the women’s 70kg judo. Since her return, her feet have barely touched the ground but she took the time to speak to us about her experience and plans for the future.

Welcome back from Rio and congratulations on your medal! How does it feel to have been part of a record-breaking Olympic Games for Team GB?
Thank you. It was a massive honour to be a part of Team GB and I am very proud to be able to represent my country. But finishing second in the medal table is just brilliant. I’m so happy to add a bronze medal to that total.

How did you feel before you went to Rio? Were you nervous, excited?
Before I left for Rio I was really excited. I was looking forward to getting out there. I felt ready.

How did you feel before competing?
Of course I was nervous but I was mostly excited. I felt the best prepared, in the best shape of my life and I felt confident – confident in myself and my training. But most importantly I was happy.

What were your thoughts when you realised you had won the medal?
I remember thinking: “OMG I’ve done it!” I think my smile said it all!

Did you watch any other sports while you were out in Rio? Any highlights?
I watched the women’s hockey semi-final and the athletics. The highlight I think for me was watching the final of the men’s 4×100 relay. The whole stadium stood up. It really was something else.

Can you tell us a bit about your time at Edinburgh College? Did your studies help prepare you for elite competition?
College really helped me to focus on something else other than judo and training. I learnt a lot about myself and it has given me the confidence to know that I can go back to education at any time and do well.

I really enjoyed the course (Exercise and Fitness Instructors Course) and learning again. I met some really lovely people and made friends I still keep in touch with now.

Do you have any messages for the lecturers?
The lecturers were brilliant with me. They understood about my commitments to training and gave me realistic deadlines and helped me out so much. They were all very supportive.

How did you get into judo?
My dad took my brother and I along to the local judo club in Thornbury, Bristol. We loved it from the very first session.

Did you always want to be an Olympian?
From the age of 16/17 my dream has been to compete at the Olympic Games.

What motivates you?
Being the best that I can be and trying to better myself every day.

How do you relax after an event like the Olympics? What has the last couple of weeks been like for you since you returned from Rio?
I’m not sure yet! Since being back in Edinburgh it’s been pretty busy. It feels like my feet haven’t touched the ground. But I’m not complaining…it’s a good thing! I’m going on holiday very soon to Thailand with two of my friends. I’m sure I’ll relax then!

What are you up to these days? Are you a full-time athlete?
Since the Olympics I have been on a break from training and competitions. It’s the longest break I’ve ever had but next year I will be back to full time training.

What are your plans for the future? Will you be competing in Tokyo in 2020?
My main focus at the moment is to enjoy winning my bronze medal and make the most of this moment. Tokyo is definitely on my mind but I will be taking one year at a time! There is still so much I want to achieve!