2015 has seen more success for British judoka on the tatami with medals won across the globe at all levels. With the last competitions of the year out of the way we look back at the success on the mat throughout 2015.
Senior British judoka on the IJF World Tour have enjoyed real success winning medals at Grand Slam (6), Grand Prix (16) and Continental Open (63) competitions, with some solid showings at World and European Championships.
In May we saw a first ever IJF Masters silver medal for Great Britain, won by Natalie Powell (Irfon) in Rabat. Another landmark result unfolded at the Under-23 European Championships in November, where Amy Livesey (SKK) took gold, only the third British judoka to do so after Craig Fallon and Ashley McKenzie.
Highlights from the year have included Baku Grand Slam gold for Sally Conway (Edinburgh) and Tokyo Grand Slam bronze for Gemma Gibbons (Metro). A first Grand Prix gold for Nekoda Davis (Ealing) in Zagreb and a stunning return to international judo for Alice Schlesinger with gold at the Dusseldorf Grand Prix were also memorable results from the first half of 2015.
Glasgow European Open gold for Owen Livesey (SKK) in front of a passionate home crowd was another highlight as was Ashley McKenzie’s (Camberley) first Grand Slam medal in Tyumen and Ben Fletcher’s (Pinewood/Team Bath) bronze at the Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix
Going into the final five months of Olympic qualifying in 2016, ten British judoka are in direct qualifying positions with an eleventh in a continental quota position:
Women: Nekoda Davis (-57kg), Alice Schlesinger (-63kg), Sally Conway (-70kg), Gemma Gibbons (-78kg), Natalie Powell (-78kg), Sarah Adlington (+78kg),
Men: Ashley McKenzie (-60kg), Colin Oates (-66kg), Owen Livesey (-81kg), Andrew Burns (-90kg), Ben Fletcher (-100kg)
British Judo’s junior judoka have enjoyed a highly successful year on the IJF Junior World Tour. British judoka won a total of 69 medals on the World Tour to finish second overall behind Russia and was a 29 medal increase on their total from 2014.
Individually there was fantastic success with three British judoka leading the way on the individual standings with Lubjana Piovesana (Bishop Challenor/Hardy Spicer) topping the table with seven medals including four gold. Teammates Lucy Renshall (SKK) and Stuart McWatt (Garioch) were not far behind with six medals each.
At the Junior European Championships in Oberwart, Austria from 18-20 September a ten strong team enjoyed tremendous success with three medals alongside three fifth place finishes (all by first year Juniors) and a seventh place. Renshall’s golden score gold in the -63kg category was the definitive moment to remember, with Sam Hall (Ryecroft) and Bekky Livesey (SKK) taking home silver and bronze respectively to mark a successful European Championships for the junior team.
The top Juniors across the world ammassed in Abu Dhabi to finish the year at the Junior World Championships from 23-27 October. Amongst the ten strong team going for gold was Lucy Renshall who weeks previous had topped the podium in Europe. Renshall’s bronze at the World Championships was the only medal for the team but three fifth place finishes for Piovesana, Chelsie Giles (Coventry) and Neil MacDonald, all first year Juniors, highlighted their potential and will stand them in good stead for 2016.
GB Visually Impaired Team
With just three qualifying competitions for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games in 2015, Britain’s VI judoka have shown their class medalling at each.
Starting with the Hungary World Cup in February with Sam Ingram (Edinburgh) taking gold while Jonathan Drane (Kumo) and Jack Hodgson (Grimsby) came away with bronze.
They followed this up with further medals at the Brazil Grand Prix a month later which, while not a qualification tournament, gave further time on the tatami ahead of the World Games in Korea as both Chris Skelley (Haltemprice) and Drane won gold while Hodgson and Natalie Greenhough (Kin Ryu) took home silver and bronze.
May’s IBSA World Games in Korea was next on the calendar and yet again there was more success with both Ingram and Hodgson winning silver medals but the highlight was Chris Skelley’s bronze medal which came just six weeks after dislocating his hip in training.
The final qualification competition of the year came six months later at the IBSA European Judo Championships in Odivelas, Portugal and British judoka finished the year on a high with Ingram, Skelley and Hodgson all taking home bronze medals.
Have you got a favourite result from 2015? We’ll be tweeting some of our favourite results from the year over the coming days, get involved with #WeAreGBJudo