STEPH INGLIS is a retired judoka who won a silver medal for Team Scotland during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow six years ago.

Originally from Inverness, Steph now lives in Dunfermline with her partner, Ally, who she is due to marry later this year and has now teamed up with Press Sport as a columnist.

Throughout an illustrious sporting career, she has represented both Scotland and Great Britain at competitions around the world, winning a significant number of medals, culminating in her success in 2014.

However, just two years later, while teaching in Vietnam, Steph was thrown off a motorbike and suffered critical brain injuries, with a one per cent chance of survival.

Thanks to a fundraising effort organised by childhood friend Khalid Gehlan, which raised more than £300,000 to help her recovery, she was able to return home and continue a remarkable road to recovery.

Steph had hoped to return to the judo mat competitively but, in the summer of 2017, she announced her retirement from the sport “with a heavy heart” following medical advice.

Since then, though, Steph, who has been an ambassador for Dunfermline-based Fighting Chance Scotland, a charity that teaches judo to school pupils with behavioural and additional support, has gone on to work with Active Schools in Perth and Kinross, and is now studying at the University of Aberdeen ahead of what she hopes will be a new career.

Writing for Press Sport in the first of her new, bi-weekly columns, Steph looks back at the moments that have shaped her life so far, and will go on to offer her thoughts on a variety of topics, such as setting goals, overcoming failure, a day in the life of an athlete, and much more.


FIRST, let me introduce myself.

My name is Steph Inglis, I am 33-years-old, I now stay in Dunfermline, but I am originally from Inverness. After leaving Millburn Academy, I moved down to the Central Belt to become a professional judo athlete, which I did for 10 years.

I began judo at my dad’s club, Highland Budokan, aged four and have represented Scotland and GB all over the world since I was 13.

Throughout my judo career, I won numerous European, World Cup and international medals, with the pinnacle of my career being representing, and winning, Team Scotland’s first silver medal of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, in 2014.

I then set my sights on the 2016 Olympics, however, a knee injury, which resulted in a knee reconstruction, crushed my Olympic dream.

I then decided to go to Vietnam for five months to teach English to underprivileged primary pupils. When I first arrived in Vietnam I hated it; I didn’t know anyone and, to be honest, I had no idea what I was doing. But I gave it a shot and I very quickly began to enjoy my time, making lots of wonderful friends and teaching such happy children.

Four months into my time in Vietnam, however, I was involved in a serious motorcycle accident which left me with a one per cent chance of survival and a traumatic brain injury. My skirt got caught in the back wheel of the bike and dragged me off.

After my travel insurance came back void a gofundme campaign – Save Steph – was set up by my childhood friend, Khalid Gehlan, and, very quickly, money was donated from so many wonderful and generous people throughout the UK and the world, including the people of Scotland rallying to give so much support!

Without this fund to pay for my medical treatment and to get me home to Scotland, I would not be writing this today.

Thankfully, I am making a good recovery. I have, however, lost my sense of smell (could be worse) and I have now been diagnosed with epilepsy. Although I’m making a good recovery, doctors still tell me I am approximately 60 per cent recovered. This is due to the fact our brain is continually changing and the severity of my injury – that and surely no-one is at 100 per cent, right?

After my accident, I found the love of my life, Ally Morrison, who I live with in Dunfermline, and we are due to be married on August 5. I truly feel so lucky and I am so thankful to be where I am now after the near-death experience I had in 2016.

Without the support of my mum, dad, sister and friends I would not have had the strength to keep going with my recovery. It was a very difficult time but I can put my determination and motivation down to my sport and how judo made me mentally tough!

I was working as an Active Schools co-ordinator in Perth and Kinross, providing free sporting opportunities for pupils, however, my contract ended in August. I therefore decided to go back to university and study for a year for my own self-development and desire to continue to be the best version of me.

I look forward to writing on a variety of topics including health, fitness, and resilience in the hope that I can inspire and encourage you to be your own personal best.