An Interview with Natalie Powell

We watched the Welsh Judo champion in training, then sat down with her to get the insight on what it takes to make it in her sport.


Natalie Powell, originally from Builth Wells, Powys, was crowned Commonwealth champion at Glasgow 2014 and is a International Judo Federation Grand Slam medal winner in the -78kg weight class.  She became the first Welsh judoka to compete at the Olympics at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, reaching the quarter-final before being beaten by eventual silver medallist Audrey Tcheumeo of France. 

A year later Powell became the first female British judoka to be ranked a world No.1, a feat she accomplished by winning a gold medal at the Abu Dhabi judo Grand Slam.  Powell kept up her winning ways capping off 2018 taking the bronze medal at the Judo Masters – the final International World Judo Tour and invite only event in China. 

Powell kicked off 2019 at the Tel Aviv Grand Prix last weekend and is looking for another successful twelve months in the run up to Tokyo 2020.


How did you first become involved in judo?

I enjoyed play fighting with my dad in the house. My mum had heard that a few of my classmates were doing judo at the local club so she took me along to Irfon Judo Club when I was 8 years old to try it out.

What’s a typical week of training like for you?

A typical week normally involves  an hour and a half of technique, and hour and a half of randori (free practise) each day. We also do three to four weights sessions a week and two conditioning sessions, generally on alternate days, as well as 30 minutes of injury prevention exercises each morning.


What do you feel is your greatest achievement so far?

I have a few favourite Judo moments! It’s hard to separate my top three – Bronze in the World Championships in 2017, World Masters Bronze in 2018 and my first European medal in 2016.


What’s your favourite country you’ve competed in and why?

That’s a hard one! I’d probably have to say Japan, the training’s great there and I love the food.


How do you think more women can be encouraged to get into the sport?

I think the increased publicity around girls sport such as campaigns like ‘This Girl Can’ are all really helping. I think the more girls can experience sport the more they will have the chance to develop the love for it.


If you could give one piece of advice to young female judoka what would it be? 

Avoid getting caught up in chasing success. Work hard and focus on the process of improving yourself. Most of all enjoy what you do.