Neil MacDonald’s fifth place was the highlight for British Judo on the first day of the 2015 Junior World Championships in Abu Dhabi on Friday 23 October.
MacDonald (-60kg) put together two solid wins over Elbrus Zamanov (AZE) and Ahmad Ghasemi (IRI) to book a place in the quarter-finals where he came up against Japan’s Ryuju Nagayama. The Japanese judoka, who would go onto win gold, went on the attack from the start and threw MacDonald for ippon two minutes into the contest.
Going through the repechage the British judoka found himself a waza-ari down against Juan Hernandez (COL) early in the fight but produced some superb judo to draw level and then take the lead through waza-ari and yuko. With less than twenty seconds left in the contest MacDonald put the result beyond doubt as he threw Hernandez for ippon.
This set-up a bronze medal contest with 2015 Junior European champion Walide Khyar (FRA) and in a fast-paced start MacDonald again found himself down by yuko before the French judoka threw the British competitor for ippon to take the contest and the medal.
Junior lead coach Jamie Johnson said: “Neil fought well. He had some tough fights, he beat a strong Azerbaijani in his first match and the Iranian was also very physical. In the bronze medal contest the current European champion was just too strong but overall Neil had a great performance against a strong field.”
2015 Junior European silver medallist Sam Hall (-60kg) had impressed earlier in the day when he held down Italy’s Angelo Pantano in the first minute of their second round contest. However in the third round, after controlling the majority of the fight, Hall was caught and held down by Hernandez (COL).
Kelly Staddon (-48kg) also got off to a good start when she threw her Jordanian opponent Aiah Kitaneh for ippon after just a minute into the contest. The next contest would prove to be a tight affair and Nathalia Mercadante (BRA) went ahead by yuko with less than a minute ago and held on to knock Staddon out in the third round.
Tomorrow will see 2015 Junior European bronze medallist Bekky Livesey (-57kg), Jodie Caller (-57kg), Chelsie Giles (-52kg) and Eric Ham (-73kg) all going for gold.
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