Conway returns to Samsun to defend her title

Olympian Sally Conway will return to Samsun in Turkey this weekend (28-30 March) to defend her International Judo Federation (IJF) Grand Prix title there.

She is joined by two other London 2012 competitors as they, and other players, push ahead in the final ranking competition before selections to the European Championships.

Conway is an explosive -70kg fighter who has claimed five IJF world tour medals over the last 18 months, including a silver in Dusseldorf and bronzes in Baku, Abu Dhabi and Jeju last year. A medal in Samsun could see her regain her position as world number eight.

Olympian Ashley McKenzie (-60kg), fresh from winning gold at the Montevideo Pan American Open last Monday, will also be looking to build upon this success alongside another London 2012 veteran Colin Oates, who claimed the -66kg title at last year’s Glasgow European Open.

He will be looking to put in a commanding performance, following several showdowns with reigning World and Olympic champions at the previous IJF World Tour competitions.

Following on from last weekend’s gold medal success in Northern Ireland, Olympic silver medallist Gemma Gibbons (-78kg) had hoped to join the team in Samsun, but picked up an ankle injury in training so was unable to fly out. Gibbons enjoyed bronze success at the Grand Slam in Moscow and Grand Prix in Rijeka.

Meanwhile, Natalie Powell (-78kg) will be looking to build upon her successive silver medals from Abu Dhabi in 2013 and 2014 and her bronze in Dusseldorf, results that collectively saw her climb to 15th in the world.

Tom Reed (-81kg), who won gold in Miami and Faith Pitman (-63kg) who scooped gold at the Rijeka Grand Prix will also both be chasing the ranking points.

Meanwhile, Kim Renicks (-48kg), Ben Fletcher (-100kg) and Nekoda Davis (-57kg) will be looking to secure ranking points and climb the table.

The Low Down

Fighting for Great Britain on Friday will be Kim Renicks (-48kg) and Nekoda Davis (-57kg) alongside Ashley McKenzie (-60 kg) and Colin Oates (-66 kg).

On Saturday Faith Pitman (-63kg) and Sally Conway (-70kg) will fly the flag for Great Britain alongside Tom Reed (-81kg).

Sunday will see Natalie Powell and Ben Fletcher fighting respectively in their categories as the -78kg and +78kg women and -90kg, -100kg and +100kg men step onto the tatami.

Action takes place in the Yasar Dogu Arena in Samsun. It begins at 10:00 Eastern European Time (EET) (08:00 in the UK) with preliminaries taking place over three mats in the morning and the final block at 14:00 in the afternoon.

The competition will be streamed live at with British Judo providing regular updates on Twitter, Facebook and the website

Words by Donna Richardson.