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Reigning Judo gold medallist Simone is centre of action as new champ is crowned

LAST time Judo medallist Simone Callender took part in the Commonwealth Games she was standing on the podium collecting gold.

Now, 12 years on, the reigning Commonwealth Heavyweight Champion is in the thick of the action again – but this time in a very different role.

Simone, 35, is the Judo Competition Manager at Glasgow 2014 and is responsible for ensuring every aspect of the three days of judo competition at the SECC go without a hitch.

Although she retired from competitive judo in 2008, it’s the first time the sport has featured in a Commonwealth Games since Manchester 2002 where she won gold for England.

Simone says the judo competitions at Glasgow are a happy and exciting time, tinged with a hint of sadness as she watches her Commonwealth heavyweight crown pass to a new champion tomorrow (July 26).

Glasgow 2014 Judo Manager, Simone Callender, said:

“It was an amazing experience to win gold in Manchester, particularly because it was on home soil. And, because judo hasn’t been in the Commonwealth Games since then, I’ve hung on to the title for 12 years. But it’s time to pass it on to someone else now and it’s hugely exciting to think I’ll be right there helping the athletes when it happens. I want to make sure they all have an unforgettable experience while competing in Glasgow.”

Simone’s role is to ensure all the technical elements of the sport are delivered in line with the International Federation rules. That includes everything from attaching back numbers to the athletes’ judogi to making sure the field of play is ready every morning and that athletes, team officials and technical officials are in the right place at the right time.

Simone, from London, first became involved in judo aged 8 when she realised it was a good way of being allowed to fight with her brother without being reproached by her mum.

Edmund, two years older than Simone, also went on to compete in judo for England and Great Britain and the two were training partners for years.

Simone won a number of other titles during her 15-year judo career. She began coaching after she retired and worked as the technical operations manager for judo at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games before moving to Glasgow nearly two years ago to take up her role as Judo Competition Manager.

After the Games she will take up a post as Sport Competition Manager at the 2015 European Games in Baku.

The judo competitions take place from July 24 to July 26 at the SECC with the women’s heavyweight competition on Saturday, July 26.

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