Europe’s number one -57kg female judoka Nekoda Davis claimed her first Junior European Championship bronze medal last weekend (20-22 September) in Sarajevo, Croatia.
The medal comes as her junior career draws to a close and she continues her transition into the senior team.
Davis started in style with a stunning ippon throw over Amelie Guihur of France.
She then won on penalties against the extremely focused Anastasiia Konkina of Russia to reach the semi-finals.
But her campaign for gold or silver ended when she met Russia’s Daria Mezhetskaia.
Although Davis dominated the early exchanges, she was then caught for ippon with a fabulous “Ashiwaza” to put her in the bronze medal match.
The 20-year old showed “great character” to come back from her semi-final defeat to win the bronze against Fanny Malmborg of Sweden. She took ippon having already led by waza-ari scores in a contest that she totally dominated.
Speaking after her win, Davis said: “I feel a bit disappointed that I did not make it to the final to battle it out with Kocher for gold.
“I gave it my all and that is the feeling I wanted to step off the mat with – I felt like I could not have done anything more.
“It does feel great though to see off the last European tournament of my junior career with a big medal in the bag. I think anything less would not have shown my full potential so I am glad I could make it happen on the day.”
Katie Jemima Yeats-Brown (-63kg) and Max Stewart (-81kg) also made it through to the bronze medal matches in their own respective weight categories, but each placed fifth after losing to their opponents.
Yeats-Brown first beat Diana Kiskel of Lithuania with three shidos and then triumphed against Bar Farin of Israel with a hold down for ippon.
Then Do Velema of the Netherlands then threw Yeats-Brown for ippon sending her into the battle for bronze against Daniela Kazanoi of Belarus which she lost by yuko.
Meanwhile, Stewart won his first match against Petteri Sulander of Finland by shidos and then went on to face against Denis Beljic of Croatia which he also edged through by the same result. Then fortunes reversed and he lost out on penalties in the fight for bronze against Mammadali Mehdiyev of Azerbaijan.
Nigel Donohue, Performance Director at British Judo said: “Nekoda had a clear performance target to win at medal of any colour at these championships and is one of the strongest girls at junior level at her -57kg weight.
“There was great expectation of her and pressure to perform at these championships which is ultimately what we want these young players to experience. Performing under pressure, when it counts, is what it is all about.”
“The Junior World Championships are Nekoda’s next target in five weeks time. Again she has great expectation upon her to place in the top three.”
Bekky Livesey, Amy Livesey, Natasha Maslen, Connor Ireland, Lucas Rowe, Jemima Duxberry, Philip Awiti-Alcaraz, Jodie Myers, Sam Hall, Hayley Willis all competed but exited early.
Images courtesy of EJU by Carlos Ferreira.