Ben Fletcher: Olympic judoka and weekend horticulturist

Ben Fletcher (in blue) in action during a Team GB Judo Team media access on 31 July 2016 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Ben Fletcher (in blue) in action during a Team GB Judo Team media access on 31 July 2016 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Away from the glitz and glamour of the Olympic Games, dozens of athletes subsidise their daily training routines by having other jobs. From farming to banking, Tokyo 2020 looks at several hopefuls aiming to make an impact next summer and what roles they have outside of competition. This week, Team Ireland judoka - and horticulturist - Ben Fletcher.

The deets

  • Name: Ben Fletcher
  • Age: 28
  • Country: Ireland
  • Sport: Judo

His athlete life

Ben Fletcher won gold at 2011 World Junior Championships when he was just 19 and qualified for Rio 2016 in the -100kg event. Despite his best efforts, he eventually lost to Beka Gviniashvili of Georgia in the second round.

At the time, Fletcher was representing Team GB. However, in 2017 he decided to switch his allegiance and represent Ireland, along with his sister Megan, who is also an elite judoka.

He won his first gold medal in his first competition as a Team Ireland athlete at the Tunis Grand Prix in 2018, and reproduced his match-winning performance at the Marrakesh Grand Prix the following year.

Fletcher also took silver at the Dusseldorf Grand Slam 2018 and bronze in the Baku Grand Slam 2019.

The 28-year-old is currently ranked 14th in the Olympic standings and has already qualify for Tokyo 2020, but to subsidise his training - which currently consists of two or three sessions a day, five days a week - Fletcher has a second job as a horticulturist.

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Bill and Ben the flowerpot men!

A post shared by Ben Fletcher OLY (@benfletcherjudo92) on

His professional life

After an intense week of training, Fletcher drives the 136km (85 miles) that separate his hometown of Bath to his parent's house in Wokingham, UK, to work on his family garden.

Every weekend, he wakes up before 7am to work as a horticulturist. And it’s not an easy 9-to-5 job.

"There’s a lot of different jobs I could be doing," he explained. The life is "very different when I’m on the mat at judo! It could be helping customers, helping stack shelves or doing deliveries".

Although the Olympic judoka likes what he does, there is "so much variation" of tasks that he doesn't always enjoy the necessary rest he might need to properly recover.

"Obviously it can be very tiring. I have a full week training. Where most people would be resting all weekend, but I don’t have that luxury unfortunately."

But this is his way to fulfill his Olympic dream, and he feels pretty comfortable with that.

You can follow Ben Fletcher’s Olympic journey at Tokyo 2020 on Thursday 29 July 2021, when the men’s - 100kg bouts get underway.

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