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Sports Scholarship winner, dressed in martial arts outfit, holding a union jack flag.A gold-standard Sports Scholarship has helped Morgan Murphy pursue her studies alongside preparations for an upcoming world championship.

The 21-year-old from Normanton, Wakefield, is in the final year of a Film and Television Production degree, an area she hopes to move into upon completing of her course.

“I have always been intrigued in the behind-the-scenes of television shows, music videos and films”, she admits. “Since the age of 12 or 13 I have made my own videos.”

And while she hopes to graduate in 2019, the year also sees her chosen sport at the forefront of her goals –the Japanese martial art of Aikido. She is due to compete at the 12th world championships in San Diego, USA in July, having picked up some encouraging results last year – while also gaining some valuable overseas coaching experience.

“I came third in Basic Kata in the European Open Championships in Holland. I was very surprised as it was the first time I had medalled in a partnership where I performed the 17 basic techniques taught in the Tomiki Aikido syllabus. I also finished third at the British Open in Open Kata, which is a more freestyle form in which you make up your own sequence.

“I went to Romania with my coach to help teach a club in Constanta as they wanted to become a part of the Worldwide Sports Aikido Federation. It was a lot of fun and a challenge to teach young students who spoke another language.”

She feels the Edge Hill University scholarship, worth £1,000 per academic year plus additional benefits such as free gym membership, personal training and physiotherapy support has made her chances of success more likely.

“It has really helped”, Morgan says. “I am able to travel to GB training every month without worry of the cost of getting there. Alongside this I have been able to pay for trips to competitions and seminars across Europe.

“The gym has helped me not to lose confidence, as it’s difficult to attend regular Aikido classes. I have found that full access to the gym and a personal trainer has helped me prepare. They encourage me to keep working hard, which is needed when I am not able to train with my team.”

The support for injured athletes could prove vital for Morgan, having recently found out she had torn her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee. However, it should not rule out her participation in San Diego, with a national competition in Dartford next-up in April.

“The physios have been incredibly helpful allowing me to know how to strengthen my muscles to avoid further injury in upcoming competitions. I will be getting surgery after the world championship, and initially I will be taking a step back from Aikido for a couple of months.”

She admits the pressure of her studies has also proved an issue in the build-up to this summer’s big event, in terms of training and preparation.

“The challenge to juggle both is getting increasingly difficult. I’m in the gym 2-4 times a week which includes doing classes such as Metafit. But I have also started recreational volleyball, as I was interested in training with a team.

“I have GB training monthly and whenever I go back to Yorkshire I train with my partner and when I am at home I train at least three times a week for Aikido.”

Aikido training is based primarily on two people practicing pre-arranged forms.

With combat sports becoming more mainstream through the rise of Mixed Martial Arts, Aikido remains on the fringes. So how did Morgan get involved?

“I started when I was seven,” Morgan revealed. “My brother and neighbours attended classes. I enjoyed it initially because I got to spend time with my friends and expend energy. However, as I got older I found it to be mentally as well as physically stimulating, which is something I really enjoy.

“I would recommend Aikido because it is good for all ages. Also, with a belt system there is always a goal, which I think makes training easier.”

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