Jo Crowley is one of those people who works behind the scenes on different fronts to develop judo, both locally in her judo club and internationally by being an important element of the IJF media team, which offers you high quality content on our sport every day. Currently in Tashkent to cover the annual grand slam, she stopped for a few moments to reflect on the theme of International Women's Day, with the theme #InspireInclusion. Jo's answers are never trivial. Her experience and her way to fight against all odds have helped her to develop powerful messages and values that can inspire many people.

"When we see the possibility to do different things, to grow in a new direction, to have authority and power challenged in ways that can benefit the whole of society and not just one slice of it, we can find hope and can explore parts of ourselves which we may have thought were without place or value.

From left to right: Elisabetta Fratini, Lisa Allan, Jo Crowley at the Rio Worlds 2013

Inclusion allows all people to be free in their environments but inspiration, when combined with inclusion means that women and men, people of all races, the young and the old, those on wheels and on legs, can all see the possibility to reach for the best of themselves, without fear of retribution or exclusion.

Arbitrary factors such as gender should never decide what is or isn’t possible in the worlds of education, medicine, politics, for example. I am grateful for all the women who came before me, who showed us that to reach is not just possible but essential. Scientists such as Katherine Johnson (African-American mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. crewed spaceflights) or Jane Goodall (English primatologist and anthropologist), who got down to work and followed their own passions and expertise no matter what or who told them not to, allowed all of us to have faith in our abilities and know that if we work hard enough we can achieve our goals."

A career, a life or simply a moment is often a question of inspiration. When it comes to that, Jo's reflections on those whom have inspired her are direct but also thorough, "I have spent most of my life involved with judo, since the age of 8. In that time there have been a lot of important people who taught me lessons or inspired me to do better. One stands out above all for many reasons. I worked for Lisa Allan, now the IJF Secretary General, when she was the Judo Manager at LOCOG. She empowered me to trust myself, to work hard to improve the skills needed to do the job and to take full responsibility for my own career.

London 2012 closing ceremony with Lisa Allan and Loreta Doyle

She was a phenomenal ‘boss,’ a hard task master but always for the benefit of the whole team, the job that needed to be done and the individuals. It isn’t easy to tie all of that together but she did and the London Olympic Games was an incredible event that I will never forget being a part of. She was fair, she managed the team intelligently and I learned so much from her about what it means to work in a professional environment but to do so with compassion."

Being inspired to move on and to achieve something in life is crucial. Having the capacity to reflect on it is as important. This is what Jo Crowley does. We let her go back to her behind the scenes seat, from where she may be busy inspiring others to be free.

Cover photo: London 2012 judo staff.

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