With less than a year to go until Glasgow 2014, judoka Connie Ramsay is ready to take her chance on the world stage. As a reserve for London 2012 she saw firsthand what a major Games is like and is now more determined than ever to be on the mat next year.
"Although I didn't compete, the experience of preparing and seeing the guys go through it was really exciting" she says. "With Glasgow so close it makes me think that it could be my turn next."
Judo hasn't been included in the Commonwealth Games since 2002, when Team Scotland's Graeme Randall won gold.
"I was only 14 when Manchester was on so although I knew what judo was, at this sort of level I had no idea", says Connie who trains at the elite performance centre at Ratho in Edinburgh. "I was watching Euan (Burton), David (Sommerville), Sarah (Clark) and the likes of Graeme compete - those guys were my heroes."
Those heroes are now closer than ever, with Burton and Sommerville part of the coaching set up, and Clark a training partner on the mat, whilst Graeme Randall is the sport's Team Manager for the Games. Having that experience around her all the time is something that motivates and drives Ramsay to succeed.
"They've had a huge influence on me; especially Sarah. When I first started coming down from Tain to Edinburgh for training camps, she was so inspiring. I was so young and thinking that would hopefully be me one day. Now every time I'm on the mat I'm trying to throw her."
"Having Euan as a coach is so important", she says. "He's only just off the scene in London and the kind of feedback we get from him is so accurate, you just need to take in everything you can."
Connie is now focused on securing a place on Team Scotland, with the ultimate goal of taking Commonwealth gold.
"Every time you see that photo of Graeme on his knees it sends shivers down your spine and I always wonder what my celebration would be in that situation. If you ask anyone in sport, even those not too familiar with judo they all know him and that medal."
She is also focused on the opportunity in front of her. With Glasgow marking judo's first Commonwealth appearance in over a decade, Connie hopes the team's performance will bring the sport to the attention of a new generation of fans.
Connie says: "Quite a lot of people who maybe don't know judo so much might have forgotten about us as we've not had such a high profile recently, but hopefully we can smash it in Glasgow and get us back where we belong!"
You can follow Connie on Twitter @xxconnerzxx
Photo Credit: Judo Scotland