Fighting back hard
After missing the 2014 Commonwealth Games through injury, Ben Fletcher talks about how training at Bath has helped him win his place at the Rio 2016.
Setting myself such a difficult goal - qualifying for Olympics - and actually achieving it is amazing
I’ve been training at Bath for about eight years so far. My sister Megan - a Commonwealth Games champion - was also training here and I came down a few times to run randori (freestyle practice) sessions in the evenings. That meant I already had quite a good relationship with the coach, Juergen Klinger.
My club back home in Reading was a very good junior club, but I needed to find somewhere I could take the next step in my career and move into a more senior environment. It was a make-or-break stage of my career, so I moved down after my A levels to give it a shot. I loved it and wanted to push myself some more, so I stayed a bit longer and gradually things got better and better in my career. I’ve stuck with it and here I am now.
An excellent coaching and training environment
Obviously, the facilities are brilliant here at the University. I have a lot of very good training partners and good friends here as well. I think it’s a very healthy environment where people can work, study and have commitments outside of judo, but also train in a very professional setup. Add in a beautiful city and a very experienced coach and you have a very good recipe.
Juergen and I have a very honest relationship. Anyone who has ever met him will know he doesn’t hold back, he’ll tell you exactly what he thinks, and that is the best thing you can ask for from a coach. You don’t want someone who is going to be hiding their opinion. If you haven’t performed well, you really need to know that so you can get over it and find a way to deal with it. Juergen will tell me directly and we have a very open and healthy relationship.
It's all about teamwork
With judo, it’s a strange dynamic. It’s an individual sport, but you are nothing without your team. Here at Bath we have a fantastic team – they’re my friends but they really push me on the mat and in the gym. There are very good players in my weight category that I spar with every day here and the others push me as well, even down to the 73kg guys who have been international medallists. That’s what I need from a training group to help me reach the level I want to achieve.
It’s fantastic to be going to Rio. I can’t get too excited just yet because I’ve been selected for championships in the past and it’s not quite happened for me further down the road, but this is what I’ve been working towards for the past two years.