Keeping it in the family: Siblings fly Irish flag in judo at Tokyo Olympics
Two siblings will carry the Irish flag at the Tokyo Olympics and receive special attention from their hosts as they compete in the Japanese national sport of judo.
en and Megan Fletcher were born in Berkshire, England, but qualify to represent Ireland through their mother born in Limerick.
While Ben, 29, is well used to the intense competition and pressure of the Olympics, having competed in Rio for Great Britain, his sister Megan (31) is an Olympian for the first time and is chomping at the bit .
“Being selected for the Olympics means the absolute world to me. I am so proud to have been part of the Irish team and to have hoisted the flag at my first Games, ”she said.
“It’s been such a long road so far, and I couldn’t be more excited to go to Tokyo and fight now.”
Megan, who will compete in the 70 kg category, is only the second Irish woman to represent Ireland in Olympic Judo, after Lisa Kearney in 2012.
Ben, who will compete in the 100kg category, had a difficult preparation for the Games after breaking his leg in two places during a competition in Israel in February.
He has made great strides and his solid position early last year has kept him in place at the end of the qualifying window.
While spectators are not allowed at the Tokyo Olympics Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, judo competitions will certainly be closely watched by Japanese fans as it is their national sport.
Team Ireland Judo Team Leader Ciaran Ward said: “This is a defining moment for us in Irish Judo.
“This is the first time that we have qualified two athletes since the start of world qualification.
“It’s been a generation since we had a team of this size and this is the first time that both men and women have been represented at the Olympics, so this is a first for Irish judo and we are very proud of them both.
“Judo is the national sport in Japan and it is the sport that normally earns them the most medals at the Olympic Games.
“They are the benchmark that we are all trying to reach. Usually in Japan there is a stadium full of spectators who all know their sport, which will be different this time around.. “
Throughout Covid-19, Ben and Megan trained at their home club, the Pinewood Judo Club, in Wokingham.