This week, we’re excited to introduce you to our sport scholar, Amber Sawford!
We’re delighted to be supporting Amber through our Sport Scholarship programme for a second consecutive year, after a number of fantastic achievements in her sport over the last year.
Amber’s sport is karate and she focuses on the kata, which are the detailed choreographed patterns of movements practised either solo or in pairs. In June 2015, she placed second at the WKUF European Championships in Belgium, her first international competition, missing out on gold by 0.1 points.
We spoke to Amber about her sport and how she got involved.
What is the highest level at which you have ever competed?
“The highest level I have competed at was in June 2015 when I competed in the WUKF European Championships in Belgium. It was an honour to represent my union (Shukokai Karate Union) and also to represent England. I came second in this competition and was 0.1 of a point off gold, which has spurred me on to do better in the upcoming 2016 World Championships.”
What are your greatest sporting achievements?
“In November 2014, I achieved my 2nd Dan black belt which has enabled me to learn new skills and appreciate the responsibilities which come with achieving a higher grade.
“After this, I went on to achieve my first ever gold in pairs kata during the SSKA National Open Championships in April 2015, before going on to place second in the WUKF European Championships for the individual kata aged 18-20.”
What are your notable achievements outside of sport?
“One of my best achievements was gaining an A* in Applied Business at A level, as I worked extremely hard in order to achieve this; but it was a complete surprise to gain an A*!
“My job at Glasshouse Bar and Grill in Sandbach is also an achievement for me as it is a great place to work; I enjoy working as part of the team and meeting new people every day.”
How did you get involved with your sport?
“I started karate at my local club ‘Koshido Ryu’, in Sandbach, when I was eight years old. It was an interesting hobby for me to take up and my mum thought it would be a good way for me to learn how to defend myself. Also, as I grew older it became a good way for me to keep fit whilst having fun.”
Why did you choose to study your course?
“I chose to study Business Management because I enjoy Business Studies and also enjoy being a leader of people. I hope that my course will develop and widen my skills, allowing me to experience the business world first hand and become more prepared for working within the industry or even, more prepared for setting up my own business in the future, whilst giving me a range of job specialism opportunities.”
What are your future ambitions and aspirations?
“In June 2016, I will be competing in the WUKF World Championships in Dublin, where I aim to come first. This is one of my biggest ambitions, after narrowly missing out at the European Championships in June.
“In the long term, I would like to achieve a first class Business Management degree which will enable me to gain a job within the business industry. I would then like to progress within my career in business whilst gaining valuable experiences and skills; however, I can’t be specific within this as I am not yet certain which part of business I would like to specialise in and hope that my degree at MMU will support me in deciding this.”
Who has had the biggest influence on your life?
“My family, friends, karate club and teachers have had the biggest influence on my life as they have given me advice and support throughout the years and have helped me to get where I am today. If it weren’t for these people then I wouldn’t be doing so well in education or karate!”
What is the best part about being a high performance athlete?
“The best part of training at a high level for karate is that I am able to compete regularly and obtain medals and points in recognition of my hard work. This gives me memorabilia for all my years of doing karate and acts as an inspiration for me to excel further and aim for greater achievements, such as coming first in the 2016 World Championships.”
What advice would you give to a young athlete?
“Never give up on something, no matter how difficult it gets, because you never know where it might get you in the future.”