Wanganui judo brown belt Rachel Smith heads to Hong Kong and Singapore to take on some of the best in the world in her age-group.
The 17-year-old Wanganui High School student and Wanganui Judo Club member competes in the Hong Kong Open on Saturday and then spends a week training in Singapore before tackling opponents in an international under-20 competition.
"I'm nervous but excited at the same time," Smith said yesterday.
"I've been doing a lot of work in the gym building up my strength, running for aerobic fitness and judo training, so I'm feeling as prepared as I can be."
In 2010 Smith missed bronze by the barest of margins at the Oceania Games in Canberra.
"I only just missed after losing narrowly to an Australian girl."
Smith will join nine other New Zealand team members on the Asian trip, many of whom will be using the competition as an early build-up to the Commonwealth Games in Scotland in 2014.
Co-coach Wayne Watson, who has had success at international level over many years, said it was important Smith and the rest of the New Zealand team gained international experience.
"We're keen for Rachel to do well at these tournaments and again at the North Island judo championships hosted in Wanganui on September 1 and 2 to help gain selection to the Commonwealth Games later. The North Island champs are the third biggest judo event in New Zealand. We are also hosting the national judo training camp here in February," Watson said.