London 2012 silver medallist Gemma Gibbons has today announced that she is transitioning from her career as a competitive judoka to become a PE teacher.
The Londoner has been one of GB’s most successful judoka in recent years winning medals across the globe including an historic bronze medal at the 2015 Tokyo Grand Slam and Grand Prix golds in Dusseldorf and Ulaanbaatar. Gemma started her career in judo when she was six years old at Metro Judo Club in Greenwich and progressed through to the senior GB ranks picking up medals at the FISU Universiade and European Under-23s in 2009.
In 2012 she was selected for Team GB at -78kg for the London Olympics and it was at those Games where Gemma produced the performance of her career, and one of the moments of the sporting summer. The British judoka beat some of the world’s best -78kg fighters at the Excel Exhibition Centre including world champion Audrey Tchemeuo of France in the semi-final. It was after that win in golden score that the British judoka’s ‘I love you mum’ message captured the heart of the nation and created an iconic image from the home Games.
The Rio 2016 Olympic cycle highlighted that result was not a one-off as she picked up a number of top results at -78kg including being the first British female judoka to medal at the Tokyo Grand Slam. Gibbons was involved in a tight race for Olympic qualification with Natalie Powell, with the Welsh judoka winning selection for the Olympics in Rio last summer.
Reflecting on her decision, Gemma commented “Today is the day I hang up my competitive judogi. At the age of 6 when I first stepped onto the mat I couldn’t have dreamt what was to come. Medals, the best memories and friends, and even a husband, I feel extremely lucky. I can’t explain how much I’ve loved having the job ‘judo player’ but I feel I’ve given the sport I love everything I have to give and now it’s time for me to move onto the next chapter in my life.
“I’m looking forward to developing my next career as a PE teacher, and once graduated from Edinburgh University in a few months’ time I’ll be hoping to share the wonderful sport that has helped shape me into the person I am today with the many young people I encounter. Judo has given me the platform to learn how crucial determination, commitment, courage and resilience are in order to succeed. These are lessons I will use to shape my future and the future of others.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have made my 25 years in the sport 25 extremely positive ones. So many people have played a part in guiding, encouraging and supporting me over the years, thank you to every single one of you, there’s no way I would have achieved what I have without you.”
Nigel Donohue, British Judo Performance Director said:
“We’d like to wish Gemma all the best in her transition from judo to teaching. She was a world-class judoka and produced some terrific results on the world stage, not only in London, but throughout the Rio 2016 cycle with her three consecutive bronze medals on the Asia leg of the IJF Tour in 2015 a particular highlight. She was a very popular member of the team and I’m sure she’ll make a great success of her career as a PE Teacher.”