It was double bronze for British Judo on the first day of the 2016 Zagreb Grand Prix in Croatia as Kelly Edwards and Bekky Livesey both won their first Grand Prix medals.
Edwards, who was forced to give up her hopes of qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games due to concussion, had previously come fifth at two Grand Prix’s in 2015 and it was a case of third time lucky in Croatia as she threw Larisa Florian (ROU) for ippon with a lovely drop seoi in the final 90 seconds of the bronze medal match.
However there was nothing lucky about her judo as she put in four very strong performances in the -52kg category. Russia’s Zarina Babinyan (RUS) was first up and the British judoka was too good for her opponent going ahead by yuko before throwing her opponent for waza-ari and securing the hold down.
Next up was Karolina Pienkowska (POL) who went ahead early by yuko after a good tomoe-nage. However as the fight went on, Edwards was the stronger and fitter fighter and forced the Polish judoka to pick up three shidos but time ran out before she could secure the decisive score.
Dropping into the repechage final, she took on young Croatian judoka Tihea Topolovec and in a more tactical contest a single shido separated the duo with Edwards progressing to the bronze medal match.
Speaking after her bronze medal match Edwards said:
“I’m absolutely delighted with my first ever Grand Prix medal because it’s the best I’ve felt since coming back from injury!”
Bekky Livesey (-57kg) was going into Zagreb on form having won silver at the Tallinn European Open two weeks previous. In her opening contest she beat Romania’s Stefania Adelina Dobre for the first time, having previously lost to her at Junior level, scoring three yukos with some dominant all-round judo.
In the quarter-final she was too strong for top seed Manon Durbach (LUX) scoring for waza-ari early on with a nice uchi-mata before seeing out the rest of the contest without any worries.
Lola Benarroche (FRA) was too strong in the semi-final as she threw Livesey for waza-ari before securing the hold down to take the contest.
Germany’s Johanna Mueller would contest the British judoka for bronze and despite having the edge in experience, and ranking, it was Livesey who looked more comfortable, twice countering for waza-ari scores to give her first podium finish at Grand Prix level.
Looking back on the day Livesey was pleased, if not completely satisfied, with her performance said:
“It feels amazing, it’s the best result of my career to date and only my second Grand Prix. I thought my performance was good, not my best, but I didn’t sleep well last night which had an impact on my performance. Now I’m looking forward to Glasgow in a few week’s time.”
Chelsie Giles (-52kg), Laure Fournier (-57kg) and Jonathan Dewar (-66kg) were also in action today however none were able to make it out of their respective pools
On Saturday 24 September, Lucy Renshall (-63kg), Jemima Yeats-Brown (-70kg) and Aaron Turner (-73kg) will be looking to join their teammates on the podium with the action starting from 10am GMT. Live coverage will be via the British Judo Live Blog and ippon.tv
Kelly Edwards and Bekky Livesey will next be in action at the 2016 Glasgow European Open at the Emirates Arena on Saturday 15 October. Tickets are available from as little as £2.50 and all tickets grant you access to both sessions of judo
For ticket orders of 11 tickets or more please contact 01413 538000