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Nekoda Smythe-Davis: The Unyielding Journey of a Judo Champion

Nekoda Smythe-Davis
Photo Courtsey: Laëtitia Cabanne via
Black Belt Plus

British judoka Nekoda Smythe-Davis recently shared on social media that she did not qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Despite this disappointment, she remains committed to her judo career.

Smythe-Davis, a 31-year-old mother, would have added to the notable presence of judo mothers at the Games, alongside athletes like Kim Polling, Moira de Villiers, Mahboubeh Barbari Zharfi, and Natasha Ferreira.

Smythe-Davis has a remarkable record in the U57kg category, including a silver medal at the 2018 IJF World Championships in Baku and a bronze at the 2017 Championships in Budapest. She also won gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and secured two Grand Slam gold medals.

Recent achievements include a third place at the 2023 Grand Prix in Almada and a fifth place at the Grand Slam in Ulaanbaatar. However, she ranked ninth at the Doha World Championships, underscoring the intense competition and the tough Olympic qualification process.

Smythe-Davis has overcome significant challenges, including a severe head injury in 2019 that led to post-concussion syndrome, sidelining her from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Her return in September 2022 underscored her resilience and determination. Despite not qualifying for Paris 2024, she remains focused on her sport and her role as a mother to her daughter Ryia Marr.

Smythe-Davis's journey in judo began at age five, inspired by her mother and Olympic athletes like Kaori Matsumoto and Kelly Holmes.

Smythe-Davis cherishes her family connections across England, Jamaica, and the United States, sharing the joys and challenges of motherhood with her sisters. While the Paris Olympics will miss her presence, her journey continues as she aims to inspire others and possibly start her own judo academy.

Nekoda Smythe-Davis exemplifies the spirit of perseverance and passion in the face of adversity, making her a prominent figure in British judo and an inspiration to aspiring judokas worldwide.

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