‘Judo gives me strength to deal with sight loss’
A Coleraine judo club is one of the first in Northern Ireland to offer training for visually impaired participants.
Stephanie Stewart was born blind because of an undeveloped optic nerve. She started to attend once lockdown restrictions around sport began to ease.
“I’ve learnt a lot about how to break your fall and fall safely, so it’s been really useful in a practical way and it’s fun”, she told BBC News NI.
Diabetic retinopathy caused Iain Catlin to go blind in his left eye and he only see shapes through his right eye.
He says judo has had a big impact on his life.
“I was struggling with the mental health aspects of coming to terms with my sight loss.
“But with the padded floors and mats, judo has allowed me to keep fit and exercise in a safe environment.”
Judo and martial arts are becoming more popular among people with sight difficulties and there are hundreds of clubs in other parts of the UK.
Jonathan Adams from the Royal National Institute of Blind People says he hopes more judo clubs in Northern Ireland will follow suit.
He said: “I’d love to see it grow and I hope other clubs across the province embrace the fact that judo can be accessible for people with a visual impairment.”
Video journalist: Niall McCracken