Chelsie Giles got the first day of the European Games Judo, which doubles up as the European Championships, off to a flying start for Team GB winning the bronze in the women’s -52kg weight category.
After a solid win against Joana Ramos from Portugal in round 1 of 32, Chelsie navigated a tricky fight with tough French fighter Astride Gneto to proceed to the Quarter-Finals. Whilst Chelsie lost that fight against the impressive Amandine Buchard from France (who went on to share the podium with Chelsie), she beat Poland’s Karolina Pienkowska in repechage to give her the chance to fight for Bronze against Polish fighter Agata Perenc. She won the fight in style with an outstanding throw to earn the ippon and the Bronze medal.
Reflecting on the win, Chelsie said:
“Training has been great and today has just shown what I can do against the top players. Every fight was a challenge and I had to reset and come back out ready for the next fight. Even though I was coming back from a loss I felt through all of the fights I fought well, so I didn’t have to build myself back up – I was happy with my performances. This is a massive step to qualifying for the Olympics.”
On the throw that won the fight, Chelsie said: “I don’t know how to explain it. When you’re in the moment you don’t think about it and that’s when the best throws happen. I think that’s what it was. I was so in the fight and I was so in control of what I was doing it was natural to me.”
Chelsie’s Bronze capped off a great day for the Giles family with her younger brother Josh winning bronze at the EJU Junior European Cup in Hungary. “It gave me a bit more to go out and win. I’m so happy for him. His first one. All that hard work is now starting to pay off” she said.
In the men’s -60kg weight category, after a first round bye, Ashley McKenzie was up against a good fighter in Frenchman Luka Mkheidze. The fight went to the wire with both players trading shidos (penalties), until McKenzie conceded a third in golden score and the fight with it.
Reflecting on the fight, Mckenzie said:
“I thought it was 50-50. I was up at the start and probably should have played it out and waited for him to get tired, but I picked up a couple of shidos and it’s a thin line in judo between getting penalised and increasing your score. I got a little tired towards the end and having got back into it, I threw everything at him in golden score, but ended up getting penalised. I’m disappointed, I came into this tournament wanting to win gold. Sally’s the flagbearer and the first day of judo it would have been nice to get a medal, but it’s never going to be easy. He’s a high-level player though and I can take this into the worlds and the Olympics, I just need to get my tactics right.”
Sunday will see flagbearer Sally Conway take to the Chizhovka Arena. She heads up a strong line up of Team GB fighters including Lucy Renshall and Alice Schlesinger in the women’s -63kg category, Gemma Howell in the women’s -70kg and Stuart McWatt in the men’s -81kg.