Olympic silver medallist Gemma Gibbons won British Championships senior gold for the first time on her return to action at EIS Sheffield on Sunday.
With anticipation high for the return of British Judo’s first Olympic medallist in 12 years, Gibbons, who has recovered from breaking her hand at the Olympics, produced a professional display to win all five of her contests in emphatic fashion.
The Metro Judo Club star, who now trains at JudoScotland’s Performance Centre in Ratho, defeated Samurai’s Laura Dangerfield in just eight seconds as she dominated the category. An eagerly-awaited contest with Abu Dhabi Grand Prix silver medallist Natalie Powell did not materialise as the Welsh judoka, along with her teammates, did not attend due to the inclement weather.
Gibbons said: “I didn’t feel at my best today, it was my first competition back so I wasn’t at my sharpest.
“It’s good to be back and today was my first senior British Championships win which was very pleasing and was good preparation for returning to the international circuit.”
One of the stories of the day unfolded in the -66kg category as Jidel’s Chris Waddell emerged to take gold ahead of London 2012 Olympian and 2011 European bronze medallist Colin Oates.
Waddell, 20, threw Kumo’s Colin Oates for ippon in the second minute of the contest and continued his rich vein of form in round two as he sealed a surprise gold by defeating Lewis Keeble of RAF/Tamar.
Waddell said: “My target coming in was to take a medal so I’m delighted win gold.
“It was nerve-wracking going up against Colin but this can be the springboard for me now and 2013 can be my year.”
Paralympic silver medallist Sam Ingram, who has aspirations to compete at Glasgow 2014, faced the country’s leading fully sighted judoka in the -90kg category.
The highly-popular reigning Visually Impaired European champion was a man on a mission as he aimed to fulfil a career-long ambition of winning a medal at the British Championships.
Ingram’s fighting spirit was on show as he tenaciously pressed forward against fully sighted judoka to defeat Conor Muphy, Daniel Roberts, Frazer Chamberlain and David Groom to fire himself into the second and final round.
Sam Ingram and Matthew Purssey of JudoScotland/Budokwai set a new chapter in their respective careers and friendship as the pair gripped up.
A waza-ari from Purssey, who was part of Sam’s support team in Beijing when he won Paralympic bronze, was enough to for victory.
Ingram bounced back to defeat Michael Horley, who could only see out of one eye from a to claim a richly-deserved bronze medal while Matthew Purssey captured his seventh British title at a third different weight.
Sam Ingram said: “I’ve realised one of my career ambitions in winning a British Championships medal, it was a good experience for me and I enjoyed being back competing.“
Purssey echoed the humble words of his teammate and said: “I’m pleased with the win, I’ve done a lot of work with Darcel Yandzi in the build-up and was tapering after the Kendal Winter Camp.
“A lot of stuff I’ve been working on come off for me and it was a lot of fun to go up against Sam and I thought it was a good match.
“For him to come away with bronze today is a fantastic achievement and it’s a testament to him, Judo Scotland and the British Judo Visually Impaired programme.”
The -100kg category was a tale of exciting judoka with potential as great as their frame going toe-to-toe. 2013 Junior Champion Philip Awiti-Alcaraz, 19, of Enfield led the way as he caught Team Bath/Pinewood judoka Ben Fletcher, 20, with a beautiful uchi-mata to seal a unique double.
The oldest medallist in the category was Theo-Spalding McIntosh at the age of 23 with Ernest Bevin’s Jack Kelly, 20, capturing the second bronze medal. The future looks very bright in the -100kg category with London 2012 James Austin, who has just undergone shoulder surgey, set to return in time for the British Open.
The youngest winner of the day was SKK Judo Club’s highly-talented Jodie Myers, 17, who impressively followed up on her 2013 Junior Championship victory by beating vastly more experienced judoka.
Myers, the 2012 Junior Champion, comfortably won the +78kg category with wins by ippon over Lucy Chamberlain, Kirsty Rodgers and Alex Reeves.
One of the most intriguing categories of the day was the talent-laden -57kg field where two-time Olympian and 2011 European bronze medallist Sophie Cox was challenged all the way by some fast-rising and established judoka.
Junior Player of the Year and 2013 Junior champion Nekoda Davis, 19 of Ealing Judo Club was a firm favourite with the crowd and underlined her credentials as she edged Sophie Cox, 31, by hantei (flags) after a pulsating contest.
Bacup’s Cox bounced back to take the title with victories over eventual silver medallist Connie Ramsey and Nicola Haywood who took bronze alongside Nekoda Davis.
Four-time European medallist Cox said: “I came here today because I wanted to test myself and I certainly got that.
“Every fight was a good test, I was happy with how I fought and while my performances keep up I’ll keep competing and I’m targeting the big competitions this year.”
Senior Men Under 60kg
FIRST Ashley McKenzie –
SECOND Lucas Rowe Hardy Spicer 83
THIRD Graham Trinder Edinburgh Club/Pinewood
FOURTH Samuel Hall Ryecroft
Senior Men Under 66kg
FIRST Christopher Waddell Jidel
SECOND Colin Oates Kumo
THIRD Lewis Keeble RAF/Tamar Judo Centre
FOURTH Nathon Burns Camberley/Shadsworth
Senior Men Under 73kg
FIRST Alex Farbon Budokwai/Pinewood
SECOND Patrick Dawson Edinburgh Club
THIRD Jan Gosiewski Team Bath
FOURTH – –
Senior Men Under 81kg
FIRST Thomas Davis Camberley
SECOND Thomas Reed Devizes
THIRD Max Stewart Lordswood Budokan
FOURTH Scott Imrie Jidel
Senior Men Under 90kg
FIRST Matthew Purssey JudoScotland
SECOND Andrew Burns Team Bath/Shadsworth
THIRD Samuel Ingram Edinburgh Club/Coventry
FOURTH Michael Horley BKC
Senior Men Under 100kg
FIRST Philip Awiti-Alcaraz Enfield
SECOND Benjamin Fletcher Pinewood/Team Bath
THIRD Jack Kelly Ernest Bevin Phoenix
FOURTH Theodore Spalding-Mcintosh –
Senior Men Over 100kg
FIRST Matthew Clempner Bolton
SECOND Christopher Sherrington Royal Marines
THIRD Neil Schofield Pyrford
FOURTH Mark Shaw Royal Navy
Senior Women Under 48kg
FIRST Kimberley Renicks Kanokwai/Pro Judo
SECOND Hayley Willis Stratford
Senior Women Under 52kg
FIRST Louise Renicks Kanokwai/Pro Judo
SECOND Emily Hickman Hardy Spicer 83
THIRD Chloe Jackson Ford
FOURTH Freya de Chastelain Wolverhampton/Team Bath
Senior Women Under 57kg
FIRST Sophie Cox Bacup
SECOND Connie Ramsay JudoScotland
THIRD Nekoda Davis Ealing
FOURTH Nicola Haywood Hardy Spicer 83
Senior Women Under 63kg
FIRST Faith Pitman West Essex
SECOND Jemima Duxberry Team Bath
THIRD Lucy Renshall Warrington Warjukwai
FOURTH Kate Harris Erdington
Senior Women Under 70kg
FIRST Megan Fletcher Pinewood/Team Bath
SECOND Amy Livesey SKK
THIRD Natasha Maslen Tora Judo Kai/Team Bath
FOURTH Ebony Drysdale-Daley Erdington
Senior Women Under 78kg
FIRST Gemma Gibbons Metro
SECOND Caroline Kinnane Renrukan
THIRD Lois Brown Grimsby
FOURTH Laura Dangerfield Samurai
Senior Women Over 78kg
FIRST Jodie Myers SKK
SECOND Alex Reeves University of Wolverhampton
THIRD Lucy Chamberlain Ealing
FOURTH Kirsty Rodgers JudoScotland