ONE TO WATCH: Breakthrough year for Dartford judo star Charlotte Jenman
Judo hopeful Charlotte Jenman could get used to the feeling of knocking down the best in the world.
The Dartford star enjoyed a breakthrough year with bronze at the European U18 Championships and a handful of medals on the European Cup circuit.
Charlotte, 17, from Dartford, Kent, won the Championship honor the hard way, bouncing back to beat world No 1 Michela Terranova after committing a foul in her semi-final.
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Charlotte said: “I had a few training camps before the Europeans. My coach has good contacts and he made sure my preparation was ideal.
“I felt good going there and I knew I was going there to win a medal. I was really happy with my performance; it was one of my best of the year.
“I was really discouraged after the semi-final. It’s the worst way to lose. I always prefer to be thrown out.
“I had the problem of coming back from a loss, but I also had the problem of facing the best fighter in the world. She had won all the gold medals for the season.
“Looking at the video you can see I couldn’t believe I beat her. When I threw her they didn’t give a score but when they did it was amazing .
“I think people now see me as that player to watch. It makes me happy that they see me like that and makes me want to keep working, so they’re always watching me.”
One of Jenman’s main strengths is the variety of his judo, also adept at ground grappling techniques known as “ne-waza” and eye-catching throws.
She credits her father, Jack, for getting her started in the sport and first coach Andy Dodds for helping her believe she could make it to the top.
Charlotte recalls: “Andy turned around and said to dad, ‘She’s naturally gifted. She’s got it”. From then on, people saw the potential in me.
“When you hear those words it makes your day as a kid and knowing they thought I could go far, the Olympics seem so far away, but you start to feel like it’s not impossible.”
Charlotte then played for Team GB at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia.
She said: “It was like the real thing, just for kids. It was great. I made some brilliant friends there.
“The atmosphere was so different from what I’m used to in judo competitions. We traveled and encouraged our teammates.
“I may not have come away with a medal, but I came away with good friends and just had the best experience.”
In 2022, Charlotte received a nomination for SportsAid’s annual one-to-watch award. She was shortlisted in the top 10 from a group of 1,000 young athletes supported by the charity in 60 different sports.
The award was launched in 2006 to highlight the outstanding achievements of Britain’s brightest young hopefuls, with Tom Daley, Hollie Arnold, Courtney Tulloch, Amber Hill, Morgan Lake and Alex Yee among past winners.
Charlotte, who received her support from SportsAid through Best Program Support this year, said: “It’s honestly a brilliant feeling. Some amazing athletes are part of SportsAid and it’s great that my achievements this year have shined.
“You see the Olympians and the medalists who have won it before – I’m not at that level yet, but it’s very inspiring, it’s unreal.”
The winner of SportsAid’s one-to-watch prize will be revealed at the ‘Celebrate the Next’ charity event in London on Thursday 17 November. The event is supported by the Royal Bank of Canada. Learn more here.