Sally Conway enjoyed a successful end to the 2013 International Judo Federation (IJF) World Tour with a bronze medal in the Jeju Grand Prix in Korea.
The Edinburgh-based judoka, ranked ninth in the world, continued her good run of results having won bronze in the Abu Dhabi two weeks ago and seventh in last week’s Tokyo Grand Slam.
Jeju played host to the final IJF World Tour event of 2013 and provided an opportunity for Great Britain’s athletes to gain all-important ranking points to get seeded ahead of next year’s Olympic qualifying period starting in May.
-70kg athlete Conway, 26, opened her competition against home fighter Eun Young Jang, defeating the Korean by holding her down for ippon after being ahead by a yuko.
That set up a semi-final against another Korean athlete Ye-Sul Hwang, however Conway picked up four shidos resulting in hansoku-make (disqualification), ending her hopes of gold.
The bronze medal contest saw her up against European Junior and U23 bronze medallist Maria Bernabeu of Spain. Conway was on top through the contest, ahead on shidos before her opponent was given hansoku-make, handing the bronze to Conway.
Commenting on the performance, Conway said: “I’m happy to be finishing the Asian tour on a high and with a medal.
“It’s been a long tour but I have taken a lot of positives from it and a lot I need to work on for next year, when I want to break into the top eight in the world.”
Women’s Olympic Coach Kate Howey said: “This was a solid performance from Sally after three long weeks in Asia. Her transition has been good all day.
“This performance keeps her in ninth place on the world ranking list, just 50 points off the top eight.
“The whole tour has been good for Sally with lots of fights at a top level, gaining two bronze medals and a seventh place finish.”
Welsh athlete Natalie Powell narrowly missed out on another medal, to follow up from her silver in Abu Dhabi. After an early defeat to Mi-Young Choi of Korea, she took an ippon win over Maike Ziech of Germany, but was thrown for ippon early in the bronze medal contest by another German, Annika Heise.
Earlier in the tournament, -66kg athlete Colin Oates also claimed fifth place, taking an ippon win over Korean athlete Hyun Jun Eom before suffering an narrow defeat by yuko against eventual gold medallist Yukei Rokugo of Japan in the semi-final. The bronze medal contest saw Oates face former World and European Champion Georgii Zantaraia, narrowly losing out by three shidos to two.
Ashely McKenzie (-60kg) and Andrew Burns (-90kg) were also in action but suffered early defeats.
Attention now turns to the British Championships, taking place in Sheffield on 15th December, before the world tour gets back underway at the Paris Grand Slam in February 2014.
Image courtesy of Sabau – IJF Media