Sheffield judo ace Sam Hall fighting for funding

Star of the future: Judo ace Sam Hall with his Olympic torch at home in Shiregreen.
Star of the future: Judo ace Sam Hall with his Olympic torch at home in Shiregreen.
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He IS a judo whizzkid from Sheffield who was picked to be an Olympic torchbearer.

But Sam Hall needs to raise funds if he is to progress with his career and realise his ultimate dream of being an Olympic champion.

The 16-year-old is already established as one of the best in the country for his age, having been crowned National Judo Champion for his age and weight three times.

And he overcame competition from across the continent to bag a silver medal for Team GB at last year’s European Youth Olympics in Turkey.

Now Sam, of Keppel Road, Shiregreen, wants to establish himself on the world stage.

He has already represented his country once on an international level.

However, the financial demands of training for and travelling to competitions across the globe are formidable.

And without valuable funds Sam, a member of the England Talent Development Squad since he was 13, could miss out of the opportunity to become one of the world’s best.

He said: “I don’t get much funding, because judo isn’t as big here as it is in other countries.

“In France and Japan it is much more popular, so the sport is of a higher standard.”

Sam, a former pupil of Firth Park School, has received just £500 of funding this year through sponsorship from Asda on Chaucer Road, Parson Cross.

And thanks to previous sponsor Lloyds TSB. he was nominated to be an Olympic torchbearer, carrying the flame in Ripon, North Yorkshire, on June 19.

He said: “It was amazing. I didn’t think I’d ever do something like this, especially in this country.

“It was an experience which makes all the hard training and competitions all worthwhile.

“It has made me want to compete at the Olympics even more. It is my dream.”

Sam trains up to five times a week at a club in Nottingham, with his parents Steve and Joanne driving him to training sessions and bouts.

Steve, 51, a joiner for Sheffield University’s estates department, said: “He’s managed to self-fund some competitions but the cost of fuel and training all adds up.

“Sam’s very dedicated. He’s ambitious and he works really hard.

“Of course he’d like to go out with his mates, but he knows he can’t if he’s got to train.

“But he loves judo and we hope it’ll stay that way.”