Kelly Edwards made it five podium finishes in a row as she won bronze at the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Slam in the United Arab Emirates on Friday 28 October.
This was Edwards first Grand Slam medal and makes her the first British judoka to medal at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam. It also caps off a fine run of form that has seen her medal at her last five competitions including bronze at the Zagreb Grand Prix and gold at the Glasgow European Open.
Edwards had a bye into the second round at -52kg where she faced Brazil’s Jessica Pereira and in a tactical contest it was the British fighter’s superior gripping skills that proved decisive. Pereira was forced to pick up three shidos to just the one by Edwards putting the British judoka into the next round.
Angelica Delgado (USA) was her opponent in the semi-finals and it was another tactical affair with just a single shido for passivity against Edwards separating the two fighters after four minutes.
Dropping into the bronze medal match Edwards took on young Croatian talent Tihea Topolovec with the two having fought at the Zagreb Grand Prix last month. On that occasion Edwards won on a single shido and the contest looked to be going to same way.
Despite the fact that Edwards put in the vast majority of attacks both judoka were tied going into golden score. The Croatian judoka was visibly struggling to match her older opponent’s superior fitness and after two minutes and 54 seconds of golden score the referee gave a shido against Topolovec for passivity.
Speaking afterwards Edwards said: “It was a tough day and I didn’t feel my best but I gave it all I had. I’m very happy to have won my first grand slam medal.”
Fellow British judoka Chelsie Giles was also in action as she made her Grand Slam debut at -52kg. Giles made a very professional start as she saw off Sara Abdalla (UAE) in the first round, throwing her for yuko before following up on the ground to force her to tap out via kansetsu-waza.
Top seed Angelica Delgado (USA) was next up and she was just a bit too strong for Giles as she twice threw her for waza-ari. This moved Giles into the repechage final where she faced Pereira (BRA) and this time it came down to shidos with the British judoka given a shido for passivity with a minute to go. This was the only score in the contest and meant Giles finished seventh.
Elite Performance Coach Kate Howey MBE believes there are positives for both players to take from the day:
“Although Kelly was not at her best she dug in and got the bronze medal. This proves that she is ready for this level. Chelsie gained some great experience and gave a good account of herself.”
On Saturday Lucy Renshall (-63kg) and Jemima Yeats-Brown (-70kg) will be looking to make their mark on the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam with the action starting from 0900 UK time. Follow @BritishJudo on Twitter, check out the live blog and watch live on ippon.tv