KIMBERLEY RENICKS was devastated when she realised she was not going to become an Olympian.

Having competed with, and beaten, the best judo players in the world, won Commonwealth gold and represented GB countless times, one of her few remaining goals was to make it to an Olympic Games.

After missing out on the 2016 Rio Olympics due to injury, the 33-year-old had her sights set on forcing her way into Team GB for Tokyo.

However, with Renicks no longer a funded GB athlete, she has been forced to self-fund her programme, with the cost of travelling to multiple overseas competitions in the hunt for Olympic qualifying points astronomical.

The Bellshill athlete headed into 2020 full of optimism about making a final push up the rankings in the hope of securing Britain’s one available spot for Tokyo in her weight class and so when the pandemic hit and sporting events across the globe began to get cancelled, the disappointment was severe.

“Towards the end of 2019, I was about 50 in the world and you need to be around top 20 to qualify for the Olympics so it was still doable,” she says.

“I was getting money together to go to events and then the pandemic hit and lockdown happened. I really needed those events in April onwards to have had a chance. So it was hard seeing everything getting cancelled.”

However, when the Olympics got postponed, Renicks hoped the delay might mean she had an opportunity to have another shot.

But as lockdown continued, and she began working a 50-60 hour week as a carer in order to make a living, she realised her Olympic dream was over.

“When I began working, I was able to go to the park in the morning and after work so my fitness was staying up, and I also bought a full-size dummy to train with in the house. But then into winter, I began working more and it became much more difficult to train and that’s when it became tough.

“Now I’m only doing judo twice a week whereas everyone else is doing it five days a week,” she says. “So Tokyo is gone for me. I had to look at things and take that decision to step back from trying to qualify.


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“It’s gutting to know I won’t make it because as an athlete, that’s what you drive for. Having a Commonwealth gold medal is brilliant and one of the highlights of my career but everyone always wants to see how you can do at an Olympics. So it’s hard when you realised that’s one of the things I wanted and I won’t get.

“But what makes it easier to accept is that I know that I put everything into it and I tried my very best to get there and it was just circumstances have been against me.”

Renicks has now come to terms with the fact her  Olympic ambitions will remain unfulfilled and she has another major goal in her sights.

Having won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, she was denied the chance to defend her title at Gold Coast 2018 after judo was left out of the Games programme. However, it will return at next year’s Commonwealth Games and with no Scot having won two judo Commonwealth golds – the closest anyone has got is Sarah Clark who won silver in 2002 and gold in 2014 – Renicks has her sights set on writing her name into the history books.

“I want to be that player that wins double gold for Scotland,” she says. “It won’t be easy though. There’s some young girls coming through and whereas before, I was always ahead because I was training full time, now the roles are reversed and they’re training full time and I’m chasing them.”

While Renicks still has the drive to regain her best form, she has contemplated a life after judo.

With her elder sister and fellow Glasgow 2014 gold medallist, Louise, having started a family, thoughts of moving on from life as an elite athlete have crossed her mind.

“I’ve still got the motivation but at the same time, I want to have a family and I’m 33 now,” she says. “Things do feel different now that I’m having those thoughts. My sister has a baby and another one on the way and my brother has two kids and so that does make you more and more broody.”

However, Renicks’ plan is to continue with judo for now. With over a decade at the top of her sport, she knows she has what it takes to regain her previous level.

“In judo, you’re never going to lose your skill so I don’t need to put in the hours the young ones do because I’ve got that base,” she says. “You just need to have that fitness that’ll get you through. So for now, the focus is getting my fitness up and then the plan is to hopefully get another Commonwealth gold medal.”