Teen world judo champion from Sussex fights for 'more inclusive' sport

  • Watch the video report by ITV Meridian's Andy Dickenson

Isobel Everest is a world judo champion twice over.

The-17-year old from Bexhill in East Sussex won the pan disability martial arts honours in Holland this year, as well as the world kata championships with her partner Braydon.

She's already been European judo champion three times in 2017, 2018 and 2022.

But she's fighting for the sport to become more inclusive - and hoping that a pan disability discipline could be added to the Paralympics.

Isobel describes herself as 'a quiet world champion.' Credit: ITV Meridian

"I'm a very quiet world champion. I don't go around telling people that it's what I am, but it's something that I thought I'd never be because I don't qualify for a lot of the competitions," Isobel said.

"So for me, it was one of the proudest moments.

"The minute I'm on the mat, I'm no different to anybody. The whole ten years I've done judo, nobody's ever asked me why I'm in a wheelchair, because they just see me as them.

"I'm just the same as everybody else. So to come on the mat is the most important thing to me."

The Westerleigh Judokwai club is in so many ways a family affair - run by Isobel's father and Sensai Paul Everest, as well as her mother Paula.

"Izzy would go to mainstream competitions because there wasn't anything at that time for her to do locally, and she'd always get beaten.

"Then obviously as she's got older, she's got stronger, and we've worked a particular program with her to try and benefit her.

Isobel is hoping a pan disability discipline could be added to the Paralympics. Credit: ITV Meridian

"Now, she goes out on the mat, she wants to teach, she wants to coach, and she fights so hard. She'll give anybody a good scrap.

"It's all about showing what we can do, showing what everybody can do, and that there aren't any boundaries."

The mixed ability club has been running for almost 30 years - offering a home to everyone, not just champions.

"We accept everybody. We've not excluded anybody. It gives them confidence, it makes them feel a part of something," Paula added.

"They have a reason to get up in the morning.

"They feel like they they have somewhere to go where they're accepted, where they can reach their full potential."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...