A very eventful day was on show at the SSE Arena, Wembley during the first day of the 2015 British Open Championships. The European Cup featured seven weight categories with athletes competing throughout the day for the prestigious title of British Open Champion.
Starting with the women’s -48kg category, Kimberly RENICKS fought through a pool of five. The Commonwealth Games Champion  wasted no time and soon scored for ippon at three of her contests. The only time she had to wait for the complete contest time to end was against Caroline HAIN (AUS), where Renicks marked a waza-ari and a yuko on her side of the score board. All in all the four winning contests allowed her to claim gold. A weight category above, in the -52kg, double bronze celebration was delivered by Chelsie GILES and Lanina SOLLEY.
Ashley MCKENZIE kept on setting and beating his own new records for the fastest ippon of the day. Throwing all four of his opponents for ippon, McKenzie spent less than five minutes [a single contest time] in action throughout the day. This incredible performance demonstrates his talent and determination. In the final, he stunned Maria Carmine DI LORETO (ITA) to claim his fifth British Open title in the -60kg category.
2014 British Open Champion, Nekoda DAVIS, returned in style to defend her title in the -57kg category. Davis won her first two contests with magnificent throws to then meet French origin, representing Senegal, Lea BUET. The final was went the full duration, however, with the good set of gripping and throwing skills which Davis has, she was able to come out on top. Laure FOURNIER claimed bronze in the same weight category.
Nekoda Davis expressed her feelings after the final: “It was quiet special to fight here in the SSE Arena, Wembley as my family lives ten minutes away and having all our tournaments abroad it was nice to have them watching me here today. The last time my mum saw me competing at such a stage was 12 years ago. I wanted to do them proud and I hope I did.”
The majority of the -66kg category was dominated by home competitors. Both, Nathon BURNS and Samuel HALL had three contests before they found themselves opposite each other in the final, where up to the last 30 seconds both fighters were head to head. Burns initiated what he thought to be the final attack of the contest which Hall than answered by countering his opponent. This counter attack allowed Hall to claim the highest spot on the podium. The bronze medal won by Jonathan DEWAR.
An all British affair was on display in the final of the -63kg category. Both players, Amy LIVESEY and Lucy RENSHALL are from SKK Judo Club and both players are based at the Centre of Excellence in Walsall, so it would always be a close final match. Three penalties to one was the score by the end for Livesey to become the 2015 British Open winner.
Pan-American Open winner [San-Salvador 2015], Danny WILLIAMS started off the day by defeating Ermes TOSOLONI (ITA) by waza-ari. The same score helped him to win against Connor Ireland [who won bronze later on] to then meet Colin OATES in the final. This match up brought much excitement for the players as well as the crowd at The SSE Arena, Wembley. A shido each was the start of this match up before Oates scored for a waza-ari. Half-way into the contest Williams managed to bounce back with a yuko score but with five seconds remaining Williams countered Oates for a waza-ari to earn the gold medal.
Danny Williams said: “The first British Open I have attended at was about 10 years ago so coming back and winning a medal and it happens to be a gold I am really pleased… Judo is one of the sports where you get into the final one day and lose first round the second. As a team at Camberley, we have all been performing quiet well recently, so thanks to our coach, Luke Preston and for the team, us who puts the hard work in it.”
The action continues tomorrow with the -70kg, -78kg, +78kg, -81kg, -90g, -100kg and +100kg categories battling for the medals in Wembley.
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Be part of the action tomorrow, tickets available on the door.