Sally Conway brought smiles to the faces of British Judo fans as she took silver at the IJF Düsseldorf Grand Prix in Germany on Saturday 22 February 2014, her fifth medal at this level in the last 18 months.
Conway (-70kg) gained a gold medal at the Samsun Grand Prix just over a year ago and went on to take bronze medals in Baku, Abu Dhabi and Jeju during 2013.
Today she cruised to victory at the aptly named Mitsubishi Electric Halle, first holding down Antonia Moreira of Angola before taking a yuko victory over Ye-Sul Hwang of South Korea to set up a semi-final against Iljana Marzok.
As the crowd roared behind her, creating an atmosphere that was indeed “electric”, she executed an arm-lock for ippon in ne-waza to book her place in the final against Assmaa Niang of Morocco.
However, the victory turned bitter-sweet as Niang threw her for waza ari and held for ippon, forcing Conway to settle for silver.
“Overall I am pleased with today, but I am disappointed with the final,” Conway said as she flashed her trademark smile.
“Still progress is being made and this will continue in the run-up to the Grand Prix in Samsun Turkey.”
Team GB’s women’s lead coach Kate Howey added: “Sally had a great day today and fought well. She stuck to fight plans and dealt with two difficult left handers. Unfortunately it wasn’t gold but once again it is valuable ranking points as we move towards the Rio qualification period. This will put Sally in a good position, potentially moving her into the top eight of the world ranking list again.”
Conway, who also won bronze last week at the European Open will now take a six-week break from competition to do a block of training in ahead of the Samsun Grand Prix in Turkey.
Meanwhile, Tom Reed (-81kg) advanced to the next stage after beating Aboubacar Sadou of Nigeria and fought well against Moscow Grand Slam medallist Stanislav Semenov but the Russian gained a late yuko and went on to finish fifth.
Day one of the competition saw Nekoda Davis beat Laetitia Blot of France before she was knocked out by world bronze medallist Miryam Roper of Germany.
Her team-mate Colin Oates also exited early after he was thrown for ippon in 24 seconds by Tal Flicker of Israel.
Tomorrow, Natalie Powell (-78kg) and Ben Fletcher (-100kg) will be in action for Great Britain.
Tune in from 10:00 GMT with the final block at 16:00 GMT.
Words by Donna Richardson.