Council gives Olympic hopefuls super send-off to Rio

Surrey Heath Borough Council held a special Olympic farewell ceremony last night (July 13) to wish local athletes good luck in Rio.
The event saw two of Camberley Judo Club’s members who will compete in this summer’s Olympics, Ashley McKenzie and Szandra Szogedi, presented with a special award and Surrey Heath flag by the Mayor of Surrey Heath, Cllr John Winterton.

The evening also recognised Camberley Judo Club’s achievement in producing top class athletes and developing grass roots sport in the borough for more than 30 years.

Team GB member Ashley will be competing in the under-60kg category in his second Olympics in Rio, having debuted at London in 2012. He was Commonwealth Games champion in 2014 and won a European Championships bronze medal in 2013.

Szandra, who also trains at Camberley Judo Club, is representing Ghana in Rio, in the under-63kg category.

A native of Hungary, she moved to England to study, and met her Ghanaian husband here. She represented Ghana at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and will be the first ever female judo Olympian to represent Ghana.

Along with speeches from Cllr Winterton, Surrey Heath Chief Executive Karen Whelan and Camberley Judo Club Head Coach Luke Preston, around 100 guests also watched a judo exhibition from members of the club.

BBC South Today also broadcast their live sports bulletin for the evening news from the Olympic reception event, which took place at the Council Chamber at Surrey Heath House in Camberley.

Cllr John Winterton said: “We are delighted that Camberley Judo Club has produced some of the world’s best judo competitors while also helping to develop grass roots sport across our community.

“We wish Ashley and Szandra all the very best in the Rio Olympics this summer.”

Camberley Judo Club Head Coach Luke Preston said: “I'd like to thank our mayor John Winterton, Karen Whelan, and the whole of Surrey Heath borough for hosting a great evening.

“For Ashley and Szandra to be recognised in such a way was a great honour.”

Surrey Heath Borough Council also extended their best wishes to Bagshot-based high jumper Morgan Lake and Frimley-born swimmer Andrew Willis, who will also be competing for Team GB in Rio.

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