British Judo selects Dusseldorf Grand Prix team

British Judo has selected a five-strong team to compete at the Dusseldorf Grand Prix on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 February.

The British team, who will also compete at the Samsun Grand Prix next month, will be out to capture vital ranking points to boost their world ranking ahead of the European Championships in April where the top eight in each weight category will be seeded.

Olympic silver medallist Gemma Gibbons will compete on the international stage for the first time since her London 2012 heroics having won British Championships gold in January.

World number 10 Gibbons fights in the -78kg category.  

Fellow Olympian and British Champion Ashley McKenzie, the world number 28, will compete in the -60kg category.  

2011 European bronze medallist at Colin Oates will aim to continue his ascent up the -66kg world ranking list where he currently occupies 20th place.

Oates said: “I’m looking forward to fighting and testing out how the rules work in a competitive environment.

“We have been spending a lot of time on the new rules and working round new ways to try and use them to our advantage. The main focus has been trying to be more open and looking to score more due to penalties not converting into scores. “

British number one Tom Davis competes in the -81kg category while fellow 2013 British Champion Louise Renicks battles in the -52kg category.

Meanwhile British Judo will be represented at the next instalment of European Open (formerly World Cup) events as Budapest, Hungary hosts the men and Oberwart, Austria hosts the women on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 February.

Former British Open winner Nathon Burns will target his first -66kg medal at this level having finished in seventh-place at World Cup events in Portugal and Argentina in 2012.

Burns said: “I’m looking forward to my first European Open of the year and with the new rules it should be an interesting competition.

“We have been working on them since the British Championships, there are a lot of changes to focus on but all judoka are in the same position.”

2011 Junior European silver medallist Max Stewart continues his transition to the senior stage having won -81kg bronze at the 2013 British Championships.

British number three Tom Reed takes to the -81kg category while British Championships bronze medallist Michael Horley bids for honours in the -90kg category.

2013 British Junior and Senior Champion Philip Awiti-Alcaraz takes to the -100kg category alongside the man he defeated in the senior final Ben Fletcher.

Former Junior World bronze medallist Fletcher has shown a rich vein of form already this year having clinched an impressive silver medal at the talent-laden Belgium Open in Vise.

On the same weekend a four-strong women’s team will compete in Austria.

Hayley Willis, who captured Junior World bronze and British Championships senior gold at the age of 16, will fight in the -48kg category.

Willis said: “I’m really looking forward to a senior event where I can go in and give it my best, with no pressures or worries. I’ve been working on the new rules and I’m excited to see them in action. It will be interesting to experience fighting with the new rules and seeing how the fighting might change because of them.” 

London 2012 Olympian and four-time senior European medallist Sophie Cox competes in the -57kg category where she will be joined by British Judo’s Junior Player of the Year Nekoda Davis. The highly-popular judoka have met twice on the tatami this year and hold a win apiece. 

2013 British Junior Champion and senior silver medallist Amy Livesey sees action in the -70kg category.