GB gains valuable experience but no medals from World Championships

The International Judo Federation (IJF) World Championships took place in Chelyabinsk, Russia this week and, while it was a fantastic experience for the four strong team who represented Great Britain, all returned without medals.

Commonwealth gold medallist Ashley McKenzie (-60kg) was first up on Monday 25 August and he got off to a fantastic start in beating Ludwig Paicher again after seeing off the Austrian last at the European Championships where McKenzie took a bronze medal against this opponent.
He continued in a winning vein to beat Mexican Nabor Castillo in the next round by a yuko score. Unfortunately he was overcome by eventual World bronze medallist Amiran Papinashvili of Georgia who took him for ippon one stage short of the pool final.

On Tuesday, fellow Commonwealth Champion of the -66kg category Colin Oates won by ippon to Chol Kim of the Peoples Republic of Korea and then scored another against Jesus Gavinda Mendoza of Peru before losing to Japan’s Kengo Takaichi by a single yuko.

Oates said: “Judo is a tough sport and it always leaves you with questions. There is only one more nagging question for me, is there more? I sacrifice alot for this sport but I need a little extra bridge to that final hurdle, to that last major medal that I have craved and desired for the last 26 years. I am a born competitor and will be until I die. It will happen because I simply don’t know how to fail.”

Commonwealth Champion Natalie Powell (-78kg) and Glasgow Games bronze medallist Sally Conway (-70kg) exited in their first rounds. Powell lost out narrowly by shidos to Yalennis Castillo of Cuba and Conway was beaten by ippon to Jennifer Pitzanti of Italy.

Powell said: “I felt good coming into the championships and I stuck to my fight plan, I thought I fought well but I didn’t get the result I wanted.”

Conway added: “I came into this World Championships to win a medal. I really believed that I could. I felt that my preparation had gone well. I was feeling fit, strong and ready to fight. I didn’t get a chance to show what I am capable of today. After one exchange the fight was over as was my World Championships! However I will come back from this as I have got to pick myself up now and come back stronger for Croatia in two weeks time.”

Kate Howey MBE, lead womens coach, said: “Obviously I’m very disappointed with today and I believe they could both have medalled. Coming into the Championships the girls had put themselves in great positions and were seeded in the draw. In the past year there has been some good results for them and they have moved up the World Ranking list. To move up the WRL they have to medal consistently on the world tour and that just didn’t happen today for one reason or another. As a team we will move forward and qualify for the Rio Olympics.”

Interim men’s coach Jean-Paul Bell said: “My initial thoughts were of frustration and disappointment for all of the athletes, as I know how hard they work and how well they have all performed This year there were some real positives and on another day it could all have been different. Our sport is governed by small margins, however I believe all of these athletes will bounce back and push on to greater successes.”