Ashley McKenzie was the standout British performer on the opening day of judo at the 2017 Dusseldorf Grand Prix on Friday 24 February as the -60kg judoka secured his best finish to date at the tournament with a fifth.
The Camberley judoka was up against 2013 World silver medallist Amartuvshin Dashdavaa (MGL) in the bronze medal contest and it was a high-quality match between the two judoka. In a contrast of styles McKenzie was consistently on the attack while Dashdavaa looked to be playing the tactical game.
The British judoka forced Dashdavaa to pick up a shido for passivity but wasn’t able to force a score as the contest went into golden score. Dashdavaa was able to level things up not long into golden score before a nice ma-sutemi-waza gave the Mongolian the winning score.
Colombia’s John Futtinico had been first up at the start of the day and the British fighter was too strong for his opponent as he dominated the contest. McKenzie’s positive judo saw him go ahead by waza-ari as well as forcing Futtinico to pick up three shidos to lose the contest.
Next up was 2014 African champion Fraj Dhouibi (TUN) and it was a tough contest with the British judoka showing good tactical awareness to keep the attack rate up against his physical opponent. He forced Dhouibi to pick up two shidos in regulation time while giving away just one on his end. In the first minute of golden score, McKenzie was able to counter the Tunisian to throw for waza-ari and book his spot in the quarter-finals.
Phelipe Pelim (BRA) stood in the way having just dispatched current World Champion Yeldos Smetov (KAZ) in the last 16. The Brazilian had previously medalled at Dusseldorf in 2015 with bronze so has experience of success in this event. In another golden score contest the Brazilian did well to catch McKenzie off balance and force him down for waza-ari.
This dropped McKenzie down into the repechage where he was supposed to face France’s European Champion Walide Khyar. However the French judoka had picked up an ankle injury in his quarter-final loss and was unable to take to the mat for the contest meaning McKenzie was assured of a spot in the bronze medal match.
Commonwealth Games champion Kim Renicks was also in action today in the -48kg category. Coming in off the back of a solid showing at the Oberwart European Open, Renicks was up against Israel’s Noa Minsker in her first contest. However, the Israeli was too strong as she scored three waza-ari during the contest. Renicks went for the big score in the dying seconds but Minsker was able to ride it out and score ippon herself.
Saturday sees three more British judoka in action with Lucy Renshall (-63kg), Amy Livesey (-63kg) and Aaron Turner (-73kg) stepping on the tatami.
The judo starts from 10am local time and you can watch it live on ippon.tv and follow @BritishJudo on Twitter for all of the build-up and live updates on the British judoka.