Wolverhampton’s Gemma Howell (-70kg) made a stunning return to form at the Baku Grand Slam, after an injury ravaged last eight months, to claim bronze.
The 2018 European Championship bronze medallist, Howell, beat Brazil’s Ellen Santana (ippon) in the 1st round before overcoming Germany’s Laura Vargas Kock (waza-ari) to set up a quarter-final fight against world number 2, and eventual winner, Chizuru Arai, which the Japanese player won by ippon.
Howell overcame Puerto Rico’s Maria Perez (ippon) to set up a bronze medal fight against Michela Polleres to claim her first Grand Slam medal.
This performance sees Howell break into the world top 20 rankings following surgery last year.
“This is my first Grand Slam medal and I’ve been trying to get one forever so I’m super happy. I had a tough draw but that is expected at a Grand Slam but I dug in and came through working really hard and stuck to the game plans.”
Jamie Johnson, Howell’s coach added:
“Gemma has had a great training block in Japan and France in the last 6 weeks, she has trained very hard and as a result she has come away with a very hard earned bronze medal only losing to the 2 times world champion.”
Prior to Baku, Howell’s best Grand Slam placing came in December 2010 where she placed 5th.
Howell will be competing at the Hohot Grand Prix in China on the 24th May ahead of the European Games in Minsk on 22nd July.
I hate competition days because of the nerves but it’s so worth it for the medal 😁 my first grand slam medal today and I couldn’t be happier 🥳 pic.twitter.com/0iypN1NQcw
— Gemma Louise Howell (@Gemh7) May 11, 2019