Kimberley Renicks eyes Olympic qualifying points after cash boost

By Jane LewisBBC Scotland
Kimberley Renicks celebrates her Commonwealth Games gold medal
Kimberley Renicks won a Commonwealth Games gold medal in Glasgow

Commonwealth Games judo champion Kimberley Renicks has been given a major boost as she eyes this summer's Olympics in Rio.

The 28-year-old has secured sponsorship that will enable her to compete at the remaining tournaments before Great Britain's judo team is named.

Renicks told BBC Scotland: "It's taken the pressure off, so now I don't have to focus on doing so many fund-raisers.

"It makes me more focused on the training and getting to the events."

Despite being the British number one in the under 48kg weight category, Renicks needs to be ranked in the top 16 in the world to gain selection but is at present lying 31st.

Thanks to £6,000 donated by Exsel Group, a Glasgow-based information technology company, the Scot will now compete at World Cup and Grand Prix events around the world as well as hopefully qualifying for the European Championships in Russia in April.

These events all offer qualifying points needed if Renicks is to make Rio.

"The Olympic dream is still on," she said. "I need 300 points to qualify and, with the events coming up, there are about 1000 potential points up for grabs."

Renicks presently has 27 points but believes gaining the remaining points is within her range.

Kimberley and Louise Renicks with their Commonwealth Games gold medals
Kimberley Renicks is now being coached by sister Louise, who retired after her Commonwealth Games gold medal

She admits she never once thought about quitting despite concerns about where the funding for her next fight was coming from.

"It's been a stress," Renicks admitted. "My sister's been taking a lot of that off me - doing a lot of fund-raisers, but you're still worrying about the money side of things."

The new sponsorship money has also helped her sister, Louise, who herself won a gold medal at Glasgow 2014 before having to retire from judo through injury and now acts part-time as Renicks' coach.

Louise, 33, said: "It's allowing me to focus on the job that I'm supposed to be doing and that I find easier - helping to coach Kimberley.

"I was worried we were going to get into debt, which is something we're never done.

"I was put in touch with Exsel Group and, after a meeting, they told me they were going to give us the money we needed - I just burst out crying.

"I felt embarrassed, but it was sign of just how much stress I was under. To have the company believe in us is incredible."

The sisters are also being supported and backed by British Judo and Judo Scotland.