20 Days to Go

London 2012: Introducing... Lisa Kearney

The first woman to ever represent Ireland in the Judo competition.

Event: Judo

Who is she? A 23-year-old from Belfast, based in Edinburgh, Kearney is the first ever Irish woman to win gold at a World Cup event, in Samoa in 2010, and is already this country’s most decorated judoka.

Her appearance in London will be all the more remarkable, given the ligament tear that almost killed her Olympic dream. That was at the start of the year in Bulgaria but, thankfully, she was back on the mat within three months.

Road to London: Kearney made her return from injury to take part in the European Championships in Chelyabinsk, Russia.

Although she was beaten in her second round 48kg fight against the eventual winner Alina Dumitru of Romania, she remained inside the qualification places and will become the first woman to represent Ireland in Olympic judo.

Kearney’s coach, Ciaran Ward, competed twice for Ireland in the sport – in Barcelona in 1992, and again four years later in Atlanta.

What she says: “Ciaran has been there and done it, twice. He knows exactly what it’s like, what it takes to get there, what it’s like being there. To have a coach with that experience is absolutely phenomenal and I think it will definitely help me give the best performance I can and prepare in the best way I can.”

Medal chances: It will be tough for Kearney, as she only qualified in the -48kg category when her two closest rivals were also beaten in Russia, but after coming through such tough injury problems, anything is possible.

On the Twitter: Yep! She’s not prolific, but she can be found on @kearney_judo

If she was a YouTube video, she’d be… Promoting Electric Ireland

(Credit: Electric Ireland)

London 2012: Introducing… Anna Merveldt >

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