Double celebration on day one of the Tyumen Grand Slam

The first day of the Russian Grand Slam ended with exciting action from our elite team, with Ashley McKenzie and Alice Schelsinger both delivering medals at the Athletic Centre of Tyumen.
First on stage was Gemma HOWELL in the -63kg category starting off with a greatly executed right sided drop seoi-nage to score ippon against Margarita GURTSIEVA (RUS). In the second round, she met Tokyo Grand Slam silver medallist [2014], Edwige GWEND (ITA) where a single penalty was the only difference between the two and saw the Italian to go through to the quarter-finals.
However, in the same weight category, Alice SCHLESINGER faced off against Hee Ju HAN (KOR) in the second round, having passed through the first with a bye. Shlesinger defeated Han with an astonishing left sided o-goshi to progress to the quarter finals and face world number one, Yarden GERBI (ISR). The contest started off with a single penalty in favour of Gerbi, but Schlesinger answered with a yuko score. The score board remained untouched until late in the contest where an additional shido was given to Schlesinger.
In the semi-finals, Schlesinger faced a re-match from this year’s Dusseldorf Grand Prix against Munkhzaya TSEDEVSUREN (MGL). The Mongolian was ready to redeem herself after the defeat in Dusseldorf and threw Schlesinger to claim her place in the final. The British fighter than moved onto the bronze medal battle against Anna BERNHOLM (SWE) where a right sided uchi-mata put Schlesinger on the podium to claim the bronze medal.  
Elite Performance Coach, Kate Howey said: “Alice fought well today beating the world number one, Gerbi, by yuko. She had hurt her hamstring in the semi-final but did well to get the bronze in a very controlled contest. Once again, this is all points towards Rio qualification.” 
Alice Schlesinger added: “I am happy with how I fought today. Unfortunately, I hurt myself in the semi-finals but came back strong for bronze. This will move me up in the world rankings so today was a good day.”
Number one seed, Colin OATES started off strong in the -66kg category where he faced Boldbaatar CHIMED-YONDON (MGL) in his first contest. In style, Oates finished off the contest by winning in ne-waza. Yakub SHAMILOV (RUS) defeated Oates in the quarter finals, which saw him head into the repechage contest against Iman SULTANOV (RUS). After five minutes the scores were level with three shidos each and the contest headed into golden score. Not long into the extra time Sultanov scored yuko to move onto the final block, leaving Oates to finish his day with seventh place.
Nekoda DAVIS was also battling against a Russian opponent in the -57kg category, namely, Tatiana KAZENYUK who scored waza-ari into the first minute of the contest. Davis than was dominating every gripping exchange whilst putting her opponent under pressure to pick up three shidos. However, Kazenyuk held out, leaving Davis to face an early exit from the tournament. 
Ashley MCKENZIE put on an exciting yet nerve-wracking show in the lead up to the final contest, scoring waza-ari against every opponent he faced. Robert MSHVIDOBADZE (RUS) and Aibek IMASHEV (KAZ) both managed to bounce back by throwing McKenzie for waza-ari, but an additional yuko from McKenzie saw him win both contests and display his outstanding courage and will to win today. In the final, McKenzie faced Kido SHINJI of Japan. Shinji first scored for yuko before ending the contest by shime-waza leaving McKenzie to take the silver medal.
Elite Performance Coach, Jean-Paul Bell recapped Ashley’s performance: “He had an excellent performance today, beating some strong opponents. His judo was exciting and explosive and he fought every exchange from start to finish. Great work.”
Ashley McKenzie added his thoughts after winning his first ever Grand Slam medal today: “I just felt that everything went well today. Jean-Paul has done a great job today, we really worked well together. I think everything fell into place after winning my first fight against the Russian who I had beaten before at the u23 European Championships. I also fought with my two other opponents before, Siccadri and Imashev so I knew what I had to do and it all fall into place. I am really pleased and of course part of the victory goes to my club at home, Camberley Judo Club.” 
Tomorrow will bring action from two of our remaining athletes who will be looking to continue the British success in Tyumen. Natalie POWELL will be competing in the -78kg category whilst Sarah ADLINGTON will be on stage in the +78kg category.
The tournament will begin at 06:00 (GMT+1). 
Follow all the live action via @BritishJudo.