A JUDO star from Bentham is looking to compete at Olympic level while also balancing school life and applying to universities.

Esmeè Holgate won Bronze at the National British Senior Judo competitions at the beginning of December, despite only being 17. She has ranked No 2 in the Under 23s and third in the under 21s. Esmeè got her black belt this year and has done judo for the last nine years. She trains at the Bredaquai Judo Academy in Accrington and the Walsall Judo Centre of Excellence.

The Westmorland Gazette: Esmeè Holgate competing in the British Judo Championships Esmeè Holgate competing in the British Judo Championships (Image: Esmeè Holgate)

She is on the England team and the GB squad, which means travelling down to training sessions in Birmingham and flying to competitions across Europe. Because much of the squad comes from the south, her parents often drive her the nearly five-hour journey to Stansted to fly out with the team.

Her mum Cherry Holgate said: “I am really proud of her. She is in Poland at the minute training. She puts everything behind her Judo. She is training over there, she’s sharing a room with a senior GB World Championship athlete.”

Despite the amount of time that Esmeè dedicates to her training, she has just started her A-Levels and has ambitions of studying medicine at Birmingham. Cherry says that Queen Elizabeth School in Kirkby Lonsdale, where Esmeè goes, has been ‘supportive’ of her so long as she keeps up with her studies, and that she did very well at GCSE.

READ MORE: Kirkby Lonsdale tennis juniors selected to play for England

Cherry said it was ‘exciting’ when Esmeè managed to beat a 32-year-old in the competition, despite only recently getting her strength up to a level where she can compete with senior athletes. She goes to TNT gym in Cowan Bridge, where boxer Tomi Tatham helped her get her strength up for free.

However Cherry said that she still feels nervous watching her daughter compete: “I hate it, it goes on for four minutes and then it goes into golden score. You just want her to achieve what she is capable of.”

Esmeè trains five times a week, with backing from the national teams. However, Cherry said that she is looking for a sponsor as she travels in and out of the country ‘extensively.’