Louise and Kimberley Renicks concerned about Rio funding

Louise Renicks holds her younger sister Kimberley aloft
Louise Renicks holds her younger sister Kimberley aloft

Louise Renicks is concerned that a lack of funding will shatter her sister Kimberley's dream of competing for Britain's judo team in the Olympics.

Kimberley Renicks, 27, is Britain's top-ranked player at -48kg but needs a strong run of results to leap almost 25 places into the world's top 16.

"We budgeted for £20,000 for the full year. We got £8,000 and that's all spent," said Louise of her fundraiser.

"Unfortunately, in judo there is only a small amount of funding."

The Renicks sisters, from Coatbridge, enjoyed high profiles during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, winning the host country's first gold medals.

However, the battle for funding, combined with recurring injuries, led 32-year-old Louise to retire from competitive judo this summer.

She now combines a part-time job as a sports development officer with coaching her younger sister and helping her realise her dream of fighting in Rio.

Kimberley and Louise Renicks
Kimberley Renicks (left) may be British number one at her weight but is struggling for funding

Louise sees part of her role as shielding Kimberley, who has returned from a shoulder injury, from the stress of finding money for flights and accommodation, with the duo using a crowd-funding website.

Money from Judo Scotland, who are allowing Louise to help with her sister's programme up until the Olympics, will cover Kimberley's costs in January but Louise feels British Judo should be doing more to help in the months that follow.

"The British trials are in two weeks' time and it will be Kimberley's last competition of the year," she said.

"Even getting the number one spot, she will be hoping British Judo can provide something.

"I know that January competitions are covered so it's February and March competitions that we need to worry about.

"Even taking the British number ones for the girls and the boys in the seven weight categories, that's 14 athletes but only eight athletes get that funding.

Gold medal winners Louise and Kimberley Renicks take part in the open-top bus celebrations in Glasgow for Team Scotland after the Commonwealth Games
Gold medal winners Louise and Kimberley Renicks take part in the open-top bus celebrations in Glasgow for Team Scotland after the Commonwealth Games

"Money might go to athletes in other weight categories with a slightly better record.

"[Since the Commonwealth Games] money went up in certain areas but it's not gone up so much in the elite side to give athletes a wage to be able to live and pay for competitions.

"It's still quite low there, but in the development side, the recreation side, the active side, all that has gone up in Scotland.

"It's hard to go to the Olympics and get your dream."

The sisters targeted an initial six events to boost Kimberley's ranking points, but she lost in the first round of the first two, then picked up two bronze medals before two last-16 finishes in Grands Prix.

"Out of the 500 points she needed, she came away with just over 120 so we need in the 300 mark," said Louise of her sister's Rio target.

The Renicks' travels for ranking points in the coming months will take in 12 competitions and will include destinations such as Cuba, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina, plus some in Europe.

"I'm going to the other side of the world to fight the athletes that, if I do qualify, I will come up against at the Olympics," said Kimberley. "You have to learn how to fight their style.

"It's a full-time job but you don't get paid for it. That's the hardest bit. But walking away from Rio with a medal would be a dream come true."

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