Northern Ireland judoka Sarah Hawkes hailed the opportunity to represent her country, despite missing out on a Commonwealth bronze medal. 

Hawkes was beaten by New Zealand’s Sydnee Andrews by ippon just under a minute and 30 seconds into the fight to miss out on a medal. 

But the Surrey-based fighter reflected that her greatest honour was to fight for Northern Ireland, a rare privilege. 

“The special thing about it for me is getting to represent Northern Ireland, which I don’t usually get to do,” said Hawkes.  

“The Games is special as you’re in the athlete environment 24/7, all events going on and it’s just a great environment to be in. 

“As nice as it would have been to have got a medal, I’m just so pleased to be at the Commonwealth Games in front of this crowd.” 

Hawkes was eventually well-beaten by Andrews, with whom she trains in Surrey, but admitted there was little in the contest. 

“It was a close fight. It’s quite difficult as she’s my training partner as well, so we both know each other quite well,” said Hawkes, who is a corporal in the British Army. 

“The thing with sport, is all you can do is give your best – no one can predict what will actually happen on the day.” 

Hawkes was willed on by a vocal crowd who created an electric atmosphere in Coventry. 

And the 32-year-old judoka was full of praise for the support she received while on the mat. 

“It’s an amazing feeling, there’s nothing else like it in the world,” added Hawkes.  

“It’s a mixture of emotions whenever you step out there, there’s the pressure with the lights, the crowd but it’s also nice to have the home crowd cheering you on.” 

It sealed an agonising few days for Northern Irish judokas, as Eoin Fleming, Rachael Hawkes, and Joshua Green all also narrowly missed out on bronze medals at the 2022 Birmingham Games. 

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