Emma Reid’s medal-winning performance at the Abu Dhabi World Championships 2024 will be remembered for a very long time.
Sharing the world championship podium with Wagner (GER), Bellandi (ITA) and Malonga (FRA).

Reminiscent of Conway’s victory over Gevrise Emane at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, Reid was being held down by 2011 world champion and the current European champion Audrey Tcheumeo (FRA) but a glance at the clock told Emma she still had time. With six seconds to go, Emma found the right angle and gave an almighty push, bridging Tcheumeo off her and spinning into a winning position, holding the French athlete in kesa-gatame. The clock ran down and the referee called it, “ippon,’ and the medal was won!

Being held.
Searching for the angle.
Holding on.

This is Emma’s third bronze medal in as many weeks having climbed on to the podia of the Dushanbe and Qasaqstan Barysy Grand Slams earlier this month and it confirms her nomination for the Olympic Games this summer. Following the awarding ceremony at the Mubadala Arena, UAE, Emma had a little time to breathe and reflect.

Reid (GBR) throws Pacut-Kloczko (POL) in Dushanbe.
Walking to the bronze medal contest at the 2024 Qasaqstan Grand Slam.

“My mum and dad are both judoka; mum is a VI double world medallist, Lesley Reid. They met at university through their university judo club. They run Melbourn Judo Club in the East of England together and that’s where I started, when I was 5. Apparently at the first session I said, ‘Mum, I don’t want to do karate,’ which is ok, as it turns out!

I did enjoy it, though, judo that is, so I kept on enjoying it. I continued because I’ve always enjoyed it. I enjoy the sense of improvement. For a long time I was self-funding and that brought challenges but all the time I could feel improvement and so I kept going. I enjoyed that. Medals are the cherry on top of the cake but it’s that feeling of getting better at something that drives me.

"Medals are the cherry on the cake."

My world medal won’t push me many places up the Olympic rankings; there’s not much space for that where everyone has such big points. I feel I was never in a position to get into seeding and that’s ok. What was important was knowing that getting into the final block was enough to cement my selection for the Games. I already knew after Dushanbe and Astana that I was in a really good position and so I wanted to treat this worlds like a practice run for the Games. It wasn’t until I got to the semi-final that I knew I had my spot and that brought some emotion but that feeling went away again before the bronze medal contest; I just really wanted a world bronze medal.

Beginning to realise she is a world medallist.

Audrey catches me with that throw every time I fight her. I was already criticising myself while I was being held down, for being in that position again, but I saw the clock at 6 seconds to go and there was something telling me to push and then I was holding her; just hold, keep holding. I knew I’d escaped before the ten seconds were up as there’d been no bell but I heard a bell while I was holding and realised the clock wasn’t right. I just kept holding as long as I could.”

What does the medal mean for you?

“It means my self-doubt and anxiousness don’t always need to be there. Everything I thought was not achievable for me is happening. I wanted to believe it all deep down, these medals and performances but when it’s happening it’s hard to force my brain to accept it. I’m beating good people and winning the right medals. I have to believe in myself more. I was in the weigh-in and looked around me and realised how many of these top athletes I’ve beaten now. I can go into a Games feeling confident in my ability, ready to give a good performance."

"This year has snowballed. Athletes dream of peaking for the Olympics and it’s happening. Mum always says that the winning leads to more winning. I thought I’d be tired running so many events together but I haven’t been. So, now it’s time to work some more, improve some more and be ready to believe in myself on the biggest stage of all.”

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