Euan Burton and Gemma Howell both suffered early exits in day four of Olympic Judo at ExCel.
Burton recieved a bye in the first round with many predicting an opening contest against Elnur Mammadli, however the reigning Olympic champion suffered a shock defeat to 22-year-old Canadian athlete Antoine Valois-Fortier who took Mammadli the distance with the judges ruling unanimously in his favour, setting up a second round tie with Burton.
The contest started fairly even with Burton controlling Valios-Fortier’s attacks, however with 1m 45s on the clock the young Canadian threw Burton by Kata-Garuma for ippon.
“I lost in the biggest tournament in the world, the biggest Britain is ever going to see in my lifetime, I don’t really know what else to say, but that is judo, people can get caught,” said Burton
“The fight was pretty even up to that point, but I felt I was going to be able to dominate the fight. I did not feel any particular threat until then, but it was a beautiful bit of judo.”
On his preparations Euan commented: “If I had poor preparation, things had not gone well, then you can use all of the excuses, but there are no excuses.
“I came in feeling one million percent that I could win the tournament and that I was in the best shape of my life.”
Gemma Howell knew she was in for a tough contest against reigning World and European Champion Gevris Emane. Howell started brightly and stayed in the contest for four and a half minutes, however feeling that the French judoka was on top, Howell went for the throw. However, the technique included a leg-grag, illegal within the rules of the contest, resulting in hansoku make and disqualification for Gemma.
Talking after the contest, Gemma had no complaints, saying: “I think it was the right decision. I was down a penalty towards the end of the fight and knew she was ahead on attacks, so I had nothing to lose.
“I felt it was a situation which a few years ago would have been fine, but it is not allowed any more. I went for it and I shouldn’t have.
“I didn’t come here to fight hard, I came here to win it, so I didn’t do what I wanted to.”
On the opportunity, Gemma commented: “It’s what makes being an Olympic champion in judo so special – that you do only get that one chance every four years.
“Rio will be the next big thing for me now, but I will just have to wait for that.”