Adlington beats Olympic champion in Paris Grand Slam but no medals for GB

Sarah Adlington (+78kg) narrowly missed out on bronze in the Paris Grand Slam today (Sunday 9 February), despite beating reigning Olympic and World Champion Idalys Ortiz of Cuba in the quarter-final.

Adlington, who won bronze at last year’s Moscow Grand Slam, took fifth place at the French capital and with it, vital ranking points towards her Commonwealth qualification campaign.

She won her first match against Sandra Jablonskyte of Lithuania by hansoku make, before beating Ortiz with three shidos to two.

That set up a semi-final against France’s Emilie Andeol where fortunes were reversed.

The Frenchwoman, who had already had both a yuko and then an ippon awarded but subsequently taken away by the referee, eventually won when an ippon was counted for holding the Briton down.

Adlington then went on to battle for bronze against Slovenia’s Lucija Polvader, and led on shidos for the majority of the match.

But the Slovenian drew level late on and then caught the Briton in ne-waza to claim an ippon by armlock.

Adlington’s single success was a shining light in an otherwise disappointing show for Great Britain whose other five competitors all suffered early exits.

Lead women’s coach Kate Howey said: “Sarah put in plenty of attacks and her performance on the mat was one of her best.

“Admittedly this is not the result we wanted, given she had beat the current Olympic medallist and world champion Ortiz.

“However, in placing she picks up points to go towards her world ranking list score.”

After the first fruitless day Great Britain hoped for better on day two on one of the biggest stages in world judo – with more than 472 of the world’s best competitors taking to the tatamis at the Palais de Omnisport, Bercy.

But Sally Conway (-70kg), Natalie Powell (-78kg) and Ben Fletcher, (-100kg) all suffered swift first round exits.

Conway, the Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist, who is ranked eighth in the world in her class, lost out by a yuko to home judoka Fanny Estelle Posvite.

On an adjacent mat, and almost simultaneously to Conway’s exit, two-time Abu Dhabi Grand Prix medallist Powell was defeated by China’s Xin Li who won by throwing the Welshwoman for waza-ari and holding down for ippon.

On their performance, Howey added: “All the women had tough fights. Nekoda needed to gain the experience but Sally and Natalie were seeded and should have done better.

“Getting to grips with the new rules was a challenge, but we move on to concentrate on doing better in Rome and the rest of the competitions leading up to qualification periods for the Commonwealths and Olympics.”

Meanwhile, European Open silver medallist Fletcher faced the current junior world champion Kyle Reyes of Canada but exited after being penalised for hansoku make.

Chris Bowles, lead men’s coach said: “Ben had a tough first contest against Kyle Reyes of Canada, the current junior world champion, and had he won, he would have moved through to the next round to set up a big contest with Lukas Krapalek of the Czech Republic who is one of the top-ranked judoka in the world.”

Words by Donna Richardson.