DAWN NETHERWOOD could become an Olympic torch bearer after retaining her World Masters judo title in remarkable fashion.
The 51-year-old from Huddersfield, who has lived near Paris for the last 20 years, took the Under 63kg crown for Great Britain in Frankfurt for the second successive time just nine months after major kidney surgery.
Her win by Ippon within 10 seconds in the final starting was dedicated to her friend Elvis Gordon, who died of cancer just last month, and has earned her a nomination to be part of the torch relay in Yorkshire for the London 2012 Games.
“Having missed out on the Seoul Olympics through injury it would be a magnificent honour to now hold the Olympic torch in my home county,” said Dawn, who was 15 times British judo champion, world silver medalist and five times on the European podium.
“It was wonderful when I got the message from the British Olympic Association to tell me that I have been nominated to be part of the torch relay and now I just have to wait for the decision.
“If I get the chance to carry the torch in Yorkshire and be part of the country’s celebration for the Olympics, it will be one of the most wonderful days of my life as a sporting person.”
Dawn, who retired from competitive judo to bring up her family – son Swen is 21 this week and brother Logan 19 – has returned on the Masters scene with massive impact and was determined to defend her title despite last year’s surgery.
“I was even more pleased about this win, and it will be an even more treasured title as l had a very big operation in September on my kidneys and l was laid out for four months,” explained Dawn, whose parents Edna and Arthur live in Waterloo.
“They cut many of my stomach muscles during the operation and, once I was clear to start training again in February, I had to build them all up again, but l was determined to show everyone that I could do it and win the title again.
“My doctor said that he did a good job, so I had to do a good job and win the gold medal – and here I am with a second world title.
“I have dedicated the win to my dear friend Elvis Gordon, who was in the Great Britain judo team with me and an Olympian. He passed away just three weeks before the competition and I promised his wife that l would win for him.”
Dawn, who was part of the GB coaching team at the Barcelona Olympics, carried a picture of Gordon onto the podium when she received her gold medal. It was one of four won by the GB team to add to two silver and three bronze.
“There were 1,500 fighters from 48 countries and it was a tremendous performance by the team,” added Dawn.
“Next year, the Worlds are in Rio De Janeiro in Brazil and I am going to go for the hat trick of gold medals. I wasn’t sure beforehand whether I would, but now I am sure I will keep going.”
Whether Dawn makes the torch relay or not, she will be at the London Games.
“I applied for tickets for the judo, obviously, for the cycling and for the rowing, but I managed to get tickets just for one day of the judo,” she said.
“There were no tickets available through the national judo federation, so I just applied like everyone else. I would have liked more tickets, but I will be there for the one day to support our team.”