European bronze medallist Amy Connell has made history by becoming Scotland's first karate player to be selected to Team GB for a major multi-sport event.
Amy is preparing to compete at the 2019 European Games in Minsk three months after winning her first senior European medal in the -55kg category in Guadalajara, Spain.
This could lead to qualification to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, where karate is on the programme for the first time.
Amy, 25, tells Sport First about her lifelong journey in sport, her role models and her ambitions.
How and when did you get started in karate?
I have been doing karate since I was about three years old. My dad, Terry, teaches karate that is how I got into the sport and it has been a growing passion ever since.
How have you been able to balance your sport with education and work commitments?
Finding a good balance between training and studies and a work/life balance is challenging but I believe when you love what you do, you will find a way to make it work for you.
I fitted my training schedule alongside my sport science degree at Strathclyde University for four years and I started my own online business, which now allows me to travel and support my training and competing around the world.
Who are your role models in sport and in life?
One of my biggest role models throughout both my sporting career and my life has been my big sister Stephanie. She was part of the Scotland national team when I was growing up and has played a huge role in inspiring me to become the person I am today.
My biggest sporting role model is Serena Williams. I love everything she stands for, she is such a strong influence for woman in sport.
How does it feel to be seen as a role model to young karate players?
It is such a privilege. Sport karate is starting to become a lot more popular and it’s great to be seen as one of the top females paving the way for so many young people.
I have had the pleasure of going into schools and sharing my story with children across Scotland and I hope my sporting journey will inspire the younger generation to follow their own goals and dreams. The support provided by sportscotland to the Scottish Karate Governing Body (SKGB) is invaluable in the development of our sport across the country.
What are your goals for the 2019 European Games?
My goal for the European Games is to go out and perform at my best, bringing home a gold medal for Team GB.
What are your goals for the future?
My current goals are to qualify for the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020 and to win the World Championships next year in Dubai.
What do you see as the main benefits of sport and physical exercise?
I think sport and physical exercise have so many benefits. Physical exercise in general helps people build all-round strength, flexibility and power leading them to a healthier life and it also has huge mental benefits of decreasing anxiety and depression.
When it comes to sport in particular there is the added benefit of the social environment it creates, which is great for meeting people. It teaches you about success and failure, goal setting and overall bettering your own mindset and positive mental attitude.
How do you feel about representing your country on the world stage?
It is a huge honour to be representing my country at such a big multi-sport event. As a little girl it was always a dream that I had and to be where we are today in this position I am so proud. I know this is just the beginning.
Find out more
- Follow Amy Connell on Twitter and Instagram
- Follow Team GB throughout the European Games (#Minsk2019)
- Discover more about karate in Scotland