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Shropshire judo star Gemma Howell can’t wait to take to the mat at Commonwealth Games

Shropshire judo star Gemma Howell is brimming with excitement after being named in the Team England set-up for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

Team GB's Gemma Howell during the Judo World Championships team announcement and media day at the BJA Centre of Excellence, Walsall.
Team GB's Gemma Howell during the Judo World Championships team announcement and media day at the BJA Centre of Excellence, Walsall.

The two-time Olympian, who lives in Telford, is gunning for glory having dropped down to the under-63kg weight class at the start of 2022.

That decision was validated as she won gold at the European Championships at the end of April, and the 31-year-old heads to the Games as part of a 14-strong group from the National Training Centre at the University of Wolverhampton’s Walsall campus.

“I’m super excited. Obviously, we’ve known about the Commonwealth Games for a long time, and being a home Games, it makes it even more special,” said Howell.

“I changed weight to 63s at the start of the year, so I started with zero points and hadn’t met the criteria at all. So, I was a bit nervous.

“We’re obviously aiming for the Olympics, but you also want to go to a Commonwealth Games as it’s pretty awesome.

“So, yes, I’m really happy I made the selection.”

Howell trains full-time at the Walsall HQ while also being based out of Wolverhampton Judo Club.

Lucy Renshall, based in Walsall, will join Howell in the under-63kg class for the Games.

Renshall is the current world No.1 and said: “I’m really looking forward to competing as all my family will be there to support and in the crowd.

“We train hard here as a team together, so it’s nice to be here as a team and find out we’ve qualified for the Commonwealth Games.

“We’ve trained hard for it and all definitely deserve the position we’ve got.”

Also included in the Team England squad are Walsall-based trio Jemima Yeats-Brown – who won bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow – Emma Reid and Daniel Powell.

Sam Hall and Acelya Toprak, who are based in Bilston and Wolverhampton respectively, will both compete in Birmingham as well.

Hall now trains full-time at the Hardy Spicer Judo Club in Walsall instead of the national centre.

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