There was dual cause for celebration for Edge Hill University graduate Morgan Murphy in July.
As well as earning First Class honours in Film and Television Production, Morgan also won a gold and silver medal in the Japanese martial art of Aikido at the WSAF World Championships in San Diego, USA. She said:
“What a way to end the academic year! I didn’t get to go to my graduation so there was no hat and gown, but I guess the replacement of two medals isn’t a bad swap!”
The 22-year-old from Normanton, Wakefield was victorious as part of the GB women’s Randori team (along with Laura Beardsmore and Natuley Smalle), dramatically defeating her Japanese opponent, Keiko Konaka, in the dying seconds, a key victory which helped clinch world glory only 10 minutes after her individual final.
That bout had ended with a silver in the women’s individual Randori, in which she lost out to now six-time world champion, team-mate Beardsmore, 9-3 in a competitive final. Smalle – a former world champion who Morgan defeated in the semi-final – took bronze, giving GB a first-ever 1-2-3 in the event. Morgan reflected:
“The competition was intense, fun and emotional, especially going against my mentors and team-mates in the semi-final and final of the individual Randori event. I have seen them both succeed in competition since my first World Championships, and I never expected to fight alongside these amazing women who have helped me get to where I am now.
“Although in other events I did not medal I thoroughly enjoyed competing. The GB team was incredible, throughout the competition I loved the support we all had for one another – I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Squad manager, Paul Carr, added:
“Morgan has stepped up to become integral to GB’s success. The road through the rounds was proof of how far she has come, and how much hard work she has put in while at Edge Hill despite being away from the GB training bubble in Leeds and Loughborough.
“She has gained legions of fans for her positive approach and this translated in the final where despite losing to Laura, she held her own, scored positive points and showed how much and how far she has improved in the last two years.
“The World Championships in San Diego are merely the start of a very long and successful career for Morgan and which I have no doubt will ultimately become the individual world champion.”
Morgan’s preparations had been boosted by a gold-standard Edge Hill University sports scholarship, which enabled her to continue her studies alongside her build-up for San Diego.
Worth £1,000 per academic year, additional benefits included free gym membership, personal training and physiotherapy support. The latter proved crucial for Morgan, given her build-up was severely hindered after she suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee. Morgan said:
“Without regular training with the GB team, the sports scholarship enabled me to maintain my fitness levels, which is key to competitive Aikido. I had decided to delay the surgery to allow me to compete, as well as complete my studies. The physiotherapy team not only provided exercises to strengthen my knee, their positive attitude to my recovery kept me inspired.”
Morgan is now preparing to begin her working life with The Community Church – Southport as Head of Media and Youth, as well as undergoing her delayed surgery which should give her the chance to challenge for future World Championship golds. She added:
“In a few weeks I will have my ACL reconstruction surgery, so will have to take time out from Aikido to recover. I plan on still attending events to help where I can and will be back to compete in the next World Championships.”
Find out more about applying for a Scholarship at Edge Hill University here.