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Lockdown allows judoka Skelley to give something back

Date: May 29, 2020

Category: Judo

Great Britain’s world and European bronze medallist Chris Skelley has been using the Coronavirus restrictions in his country to great effect – focusing on volunteering, his new dog and training with his Paralympian girlfriend, Louise Hunt.

Great Britain has only been emerging from its two month lockdown – where people could only leave the house to shop for groceries or to help those in need, as well as for exercise near their homes – in recent weeks.

Since the end of March when the restrictions were introduced, Skelley has been keeping himself busy.

“We keep in regular contact with my coach and training partners online. My girlfriend Louise is also training to compete in Tokyo, in the wheelchair tennis category, so we train together at home to help motivate each other. We also recently got a dog, so he keeps me very active as we take him for walks.”

The dog in question, Milo, is a trainee therapy dog for Phoenix Enterprises in Swindon where Skelley lives.

The organisation supports training and employment opportunities for people with mental health issues.

“He [Milo] is a cheeky little puppy who is lively and wants to wrestle with me all the time. He makes me and my girlfriend really happy.”

As well as dog training, Skelley has also been delivering food parcels to vulnerable members of his community as one of Phoenix Enterprises’ Ambassadors.

“We make sure they have essentials and also check they are keeping well and safe. It helps me feel like I am making a difference in the world even while I am in lockdown.”

But despite staying physically and mentally active Skelley’s thoughts are never far away from the tatami.

He is training every day in the hope he can grab his first Paralympic medal at the re-scheduled Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in the men’s up to 100kg next year.

“My weight category is a very tough one. [Russia’s] Abdula Kuramagomedov and [Georgia’s] Zviad Gogotchuri are both leading the way and they are the guys setting the standard to beat now, however I have learned that you must constantly develop and adapt. The quality of VI [visually impaired] judo is constantly improving and I therefore have to develop as a judoka in order to be successful.”

If a whole-person approach helps a judoka to improve their performances, Skelley is taking all the right steps.

“I was not satisfied with my result in Rio. It was my first Paralympic Games however I wanted to take a medal. I will be going to Tokyo hungrier than ever and will give my best performance. If all goes well, that should result in a medal.”
With contributions from Victoria Donu

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