Black-belt for Emily (16) as she takes English title

Emily Niven in action in Flanders, Belgium.
Emily Niven in action in Flanders, Belgium.

The Berkhamsted-based Rush Judo club had three of their Elite squad competing at the England Junior Championships in Thetford, Norfolk, at the weekend.

Star of the weekend for Rush was undoubtedly 16-year-old Emily Niven who stepped up to compete in the U21 category and went on to storm through the rounds unbeaten while executing some amazing ippon wins to take the title.

Emily Niven (16) with her Rush Judo team-mates celebrating her black-belt achievement.

Emily Niven (16) with her Rush Judo team-mates celebrating her black-belt achievement.

It meant that when she took the podium to be presented with her gold medal, she had also picked up enough points to earn the ultimate accolade of a black belt.

Emily first started judo when she was eight years old, along with her sister Hannah, with the martial art being a strong influence in their lives. Their grandma is a judo instructor and their mum, uncle and godfather had all competed in judo in their youth.

Emily was first selected to the England squad in 2016 and has won a multitude of medals and titles over the last few years.

Her best result was probably in Flanders, Belgium, where in a large pool littered with international judoka, she took a fantastic silver medal.

Emily being awarded her black-belt by coaches Laurie Rush and Pete Brent.

Emily being awarded her black-belt by coaches Laurie Rush and Pete Brent.

Competing in the 2017 UK School Games was her favourite experience to date, where she took an individual bronze medal and followed that up with a team bronze as part of the England team.

Emily is on the AASE (Advance Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence) program at Bath University, where she attends during every school holiday plus several weekends throughout the year

That is in addition to three A-levels she is studying at St Albans Girls’ School.

Emily has fought in Belgium, Holland and Sweden – winning medals at all three – and there seems to be no end to her success.

Already this year, at Sportif International she was part of the England team who won a gold medal against countries such as Canada and France.

And having taken an 
early step into the Junior 
age group, she has already topped the podium.

Coach Laurie Rush is very proud of Emily and still remembers the first time she came to the Rush dojo on crutches, unable to walk due to problems with her joints

He added: “Of all her achievements, which includes international medals and representing her country along with her recent crowning as English Open Champion, achieving her black-belt rates as the best. I am so proud.”