Commonwealth stars target medals at Croatian Grand Prix

British Judo’s Commonwealth stars are ready for the 2014 International Judo Federation (IJF) Zagreb Grand Prix taking place in Croatia from 12-14 September, writes Donna Richardson.

The IJF World Tour event is a chance for players to gain vital world-ranking points ahead of Rio 2016 and British Judo is sending a strong team.

Commonwealth Champions Nekoda Davis (57kg), Megan Fletcher (-70kg), Natalie Powell (-78kg), Sarah Adlington (+78kg), Ashley McKenzie (-60kg) and Colin Oates (-66kg) will all be in action.

Colin said: “After a frustrating World Championships, I feel that Croatia offers me an opportunity to put to bed my disappointments and try to move into my rest period (which is due straight after this event) with a feeling of satisfaction which can only be gained my winning medals. So there is only one outcome that I which to achieve this weekend and that is a podium finish.”

Olympian Sally Conway (-70kg) who took a Commonwealth bronze medal in Glasgow and and Gary Hall (-90kg) will be in action.

“I’m looking forward to fighting again after the world championships,” said Sally.

“I’m feeling fit and strong. If I can put in a good performance in Croatia I will be very happy. I believe if I give a good performance I can come away with a medal.”

Her fellow London 2012 team-mate Gemma Howell (-63kg) will also be in action.

It is Howell’s first international competition following injury, however she is in great form having recently taken a silver medal at the Heart of England competition. She has also been in training with the senior team in Portugal and thus feels ready for action.

“I am very excited to be back fighting. My first competition was the Heart of England and I have the Croatia Grand Prix this weekend. My knee has healed up well. I had MCL reconstruction and the meniscus taken out. It’s been a long rehabilitation process but I am glad to be back.”

Olympic silver medallist Gemma Gibbons (-78kg) was due to compete but will sit on the sidelines due to injury.

Lead women’s coach Kate Howey, MBE, said: “I am looking forward to Croatia as there are some players competing that have been out for a while due to to injury so it will be interesting to see how they go. It is also the first outing for the the two girls that went to the worlds, so they will be wanting to put in a good performance.”

Interim men’s coach Jean Paul Bell said: “I’m looking forward to this event, which gives the athletes a good chance for Olympic qualification points post World Championships.”

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Image Colin Oates By Mike Varey. Elite Pix.