Britain’s judo stars train at Kodokan ahead of final IJF competition of 2014

After securing a bronze medal at the Jeju Grand Prix, Colin Oates and his British Judo team mates have been in training at the Kodokan – widely considered to be the home of judo as they prepare for this weekend’s Tokyo Grand Slam in Japan, writes Donna Richardson.

At last weekend’s Jeju Judo Grand Prix in South Korea, under 66kg Commonwealth Champion Colin Oates took bronze, fellow Glasgow 2014 gold medallist Ashley McKenzie (-60kg) placed fifth and Glasgow 2014 bronze medallist Sally Conway (-70kg) took seventh place, setting them all firmly on the road to Rio 2016.

The Asia Tour tournaments are one among the toughest competitions in the IJF calendar. Looking back on the Jeju competition, Interim Men’s Coach Jean Paul-Bell said: “I am really pleased with the performances so far in Asia. “Both Colin and Ashley are proving consistent at this level and are capable of fighting for and winning medals at every event.

“Both athletes displayed good scoring judo and Colin capping his day with a strong win over a dangerous opponent.

Ben and Andy fought well and gained valuable experience on the world stage.” Oates is currently ranked number six at his weight and this is one of his best results this year.

He beat Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Golan Pollack of Israel for the bronze medal by taking the lead with a yuko and adding a waza-ari by a hold down.

Colin and Ashley train at the KodokanHe said: “I was pleased with the medal and my performance. It was becoming a tough period for me without a medal result in the past six months.

Judo can be like that and persistence is the key. Now I’m back on track with a medal I will be hoping to add to my latest performance by securing a medal this week at the Tokyo Grand Slam.”

McKenzie took fifth place after he lost by a waza-ari to Ganbold Kerlen of Mongolia, while Baku silver medallist Conway, who is currently world number seven at her weight, finished in solid seventh place after she lost out to 2011 World Champion and eventual gold medallist of the competition Gevrise Emane of France.

Elsewhere, Commonwealth Champion Sarah Adlington (+78kg) and Glasgow 2014 bronze medallist Andrew Burns (-90kg) both bowed out early. Ben Fletcher (-100kg) won his first fight against Maksud Ibagimov of Russia but then lost to Toma Nikiforov of Belgium, while Connie Ramsay (-57kg) beat Johanna Mueller on penalties in her first contest but was overcome for ippon by London 2012 bronze medallist Autumne Pavia.

Tokyo is the third and final competition of the 2014 calendar and with Rio 2016 on the horizon, every point this year counts as half towards Olympic qualification. Oates, McKenzie and Conway are all looking to end their year on a successful note at Grand Slam, which carries major points for medals and placings. Ben Fletcher and Sarah Adlington will also join them in competition. Watch all the action live on Ippon TV and support our athletes.

Vital Statistics

Friday 5 December – Women: -48kg, -52kg, -57kg, Men: -60 kg, -66 kg

Saturday 6 December: Women: -63kg -70kg, Men: -73kg -81kg

Sunday 7 December: Women: -78kg, +78kg, Men: -90kg, -100kg, +100kg