Carluke karate ace Emma Ruthven harbours Olympic ambitions after landing British Junior Kata gold and British Senior Kata women’s silver medals, writes Craig Goldthorp.
Karate makes its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, with only 10 male and 10 female places available through qualification.
Despite only being 17, Emma has an outside chance of making the final cut for the Great Britain squad.
Her confidence is high after the double British success in Leicester Arena on Saturday.
“Getting these two medals is great,” Emma told the Carluke and Lanark Gazette.
“To have a British title is one of those things you always dream about as a young kid.
“It is great for me psychologically and physically and is great preparation for my upcoming events.
“It’s karate’s debut as an Olympic sport next year and I definitely believe I can compete at that level one day.
“Possibly not next year, because being so young I have not had the same amount of time to qualify as the older athletes.
“But competing at the 2024 Games (in Paris) is a realistic target.”
Emma showed her huge potential in Leicester by winning seven out of her eight bouts at junior and senior level.
Victories in the first three junior rounds were followed by a comprehensive 4-1 final success over Sadie Stoner, a former world number two in the 14-15 years category.
“I was really at my best in that final,” Emma said. “When I was younger Sadie was always a rival of mine but now I feel that I have the better of her after becoming a lot more professional and upping my training.”
“And getting silver in the senior competition surpassed my expectations.
“In that event there were people who had won World and European medals.
“So to be in the final was a nice experience for me.
“I had never been in that position before so it was a huge breakthrough and has set the bar for future championships.”
Emma beat old rival Stoner 5-0 in the semi-final before losing by the same score to Natalie Payne in the final.
The Carluke girl has continued to progress in the karate ranks since landing a bronze medal at the World Karate Federation European Championship in Russia in February 2018.
In finishing third, she became the first Scottish girl ever to win a medal at that level.
“I’m on top form just now and have never felt better,” she added.
“I’m benefitting from now taking part in pre-training and strength and conditioning programmes before the major events.”
Emma, who is a member of Renfrew-based Shitokai Scotland club, is coached by Stephanie Connell.
The teenager is gearing up for a big competition in Canada in three weeks’ time.