Olympian Colin Oates claimed a superb silver medal on the first day of the Moscow Grand Slam at the Krylatskoe Sport Palace in Russia, one of the premier ranking events of the International Judo Federation (IJF) world tour.
Norfolk-based Oates lost to Brazilian Charles Chibana being thrown twice for waza-ari in a rematch of the final in San Salvador last month.
On that occasion Chibana took the gold and the Brazilian was too strong again in Moscow as Oates narrowly failed to become the first male British Judoka to win a Grand Slam since Euan Burton triumphed in Tokyo back in 2009.
Oates’ journey began with an impressive early victory by ippon against Miami Grand Prix gold medallist Abdula Abdulzhalilov of Russia. He then went on to beat Ulugbek Norkobilov of Uzbekistan by waza-ari, before claiming victory over Tajik Rasul Abdusharipov by ippon in the quarter-final.
Britain’s top ranked -66kg fighter Oates, who took a seventh place finish at the London 2012 Olympic Games, stormed through to the final after claiming a yuko victory in golden score over former Junior World Champion and Senior World bronze medallist Nijat Shikhalizada of Azerbaijan in the semi-final.
Following the final, Oates said: “It was a great day and I’m pleased with my performance.
“It is nice, at the age of 30, to finally take a Grand Slam medal because it’s something I have worked on for my whole career. To take it here in Russia is even more special.”
Commenting on the performance Chris Bowles, Lead Mens Coach commented: “It was a stunning display of tactical and ippon scoring judo by Colin. It is a fantastic result that he got silver. He was in top form but the Brazilian guy was on fire.
“To get to the final of a Grand Slam is a fantastic achievement. He is a great ambassador for all young judoka.”
“His Tai Otoshi in the fight against Abdulzhalilov was amazing and was quite literally the ‘throw of the day’.
His semi-final against Shikhalizada was phenomenal. It was an amazing battle that took all of his experience, guts and determination and it was a question of who could dig the deepest. He took him over for a yuko and scored a stunning throw to win in golden score.”
Another -66kg judoka for GB, Nathon Burns, a bronze medallist in Tallinn, also claimed an early ippon victory over Nadir Babayev of Azerbaijan, but was then knocked out of the competition by former Asian Championship Silver medallist Mirzahid Farmonov of Uzbekistan.
There were hopes that the -60kg world number 12 Ashley McKenzie, fresh from his bronze in Miami, would claim a medal but he fell at the first hurdle as Ukranian Hevorh Hevorhryan won by ippon.
Patrick Dawson (-73kg) lost by waza-ari to Rustam Orujov of Azerbaijan, despite being level on yukos earlier in the match, while Jan Gosiewski, in the same weight category, was also unlucky after being beaten by Brazilian Marcelo Contini by ippon, having earlier led by yuko.
Kimberley Renicks (-48kg) went out in the first round after being caught for ippon by Russian Lyusine Vakyan.
Recent addition to the senior squad Nekoda Davis (-57kg) also made a first-round exit after losing by ippon to Johanna Mueller of Germany.
Great Britain will be confident of regaining some ground tomorrow when Olympic star Gemma Gibbons leads their charge, joined by Natalie Powell, Sally Conway, Sarah Adlington and Philip Awiti Alcaraz.
Words by Donna Richardson.
Photo Credit to Zahony @IJF