Fletcher takes Olympic spot in absence of a world medal

The 2015 World Judo Championships came to an end today for the British athletes. Overall results included a 7th place from Gemma Gibbons in the -78kg category, alongside crucial Olympic qualifying points for Rio 2016.  

The last day of the tournament allowed Ben FLETCHER to shine in the -100kg category. The first round brought Frederik JOERGENSEN (DEN), where Fletcher secured a win by a yuko with a counter attack. The next challenge was Luciano CORREA (BRA). After a long and very close contest, Fletcher managed to hold on to a single penalty received by Correa early in the fight. 
Frey KARL-RICHARD (GER) was in the way of the british fighter on his way to the quarter-finals. The German fighter left no room for Fletcher to execute any of his attacks, and held him down for 15 seconds after securing a waza-ari score. Karl-Richard was certainly on form as he went on to defeat 2013 World Champion, Lukas KRPALEK (CZE) in the semi-final. 
“It is good to win two fights and get some important qualification points which will take me closer towards direct qualification”, said Fletcher.
“Regarding my last contest there is not much to say, I lost square and fair. He is a top player and he had a good day today, however I believe he is someone I can beat in the future. It was just a bridge too far today…”, he added. 
Both GB Elite performance coaches, Kate Howey and Jean-Paul Bell concluded the week in Astana. 
Kate Howey said: “World Championships are a tough place to medal. Everyone in our team had good performances, but a good performance isn’t always enough to medal and this will have to change for Rio next year.”
Jean Paul-Bell added: “We came out here and asked them to perform at their best which they all did. There are very small margins between winning and losing a contest, sometimes as small as a shido, and some days it’s a medal for us and other days it isn’t. Overall, I am really pleased with the performance from the team and I am looking forward to the rest of the events ahead.” 
Ben Fletcher may have had a tough day today and he will have return without a medal. However, looking at the bigger picture, after winning his first two contests today, he has earned enough qualification points to book a spot in the ‘green-zone’, which indicates athletes who are in a direct qualifcation position for the upcoming Olympic Games.
British Judo currently has nine players in a direct qualification position and others being very close to entering the zone. It’s not until the Paris Grand Slam that the elite podium players will be on stage again, but before that comes the Grand Prix which will be held in four weeks time in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and the Glasgow European Open.