It was double delight for the Junior squad this weekend as both Jamie-Leigh Whitaker and Sian Bobrowska claimed deserved medals at the Junior European Cup in Gdynia, Poland.
Whitaker started the weekend off in fine fashion as she comfortably dispatched Lithuania’s Egle Naudziunaite in her opening contest of the -44kg category. Naudziunaite had previously won a bronze medal at the Kaunas European Cup in May so was the perfect opening round opponent for Whitaker, and offered a test in which she passed with flying colours as she recorded an ippon victory.
Her second and third contests proved to be a sterner test as for Whitaker as she came up against eventual Gold medallist Kateryna Sablieva (UKR) and Vanessa Barbosa (POR) and they both got the better of Whitaker in a tough couple of contests.
She arguably left her best performance for her final contest however. Under pressure to secure the victory that could have potentially led to her claiming the silver medal, Whitaker took on home favourite Aleksandra Polkowska who won bronze at the same event last year. Both fighters were keen to end the contest early and it was Whitaker who was able to claim the ippon finish, and with it, the silver medal.
Sian Bobrowska was making her debut at Junior level competition and immediately looked at home as she won a bronze medal. Her opening contest against Helena Grau (GER) was a tactical battle and one which Bobrowska used her experience from Cadet level to her advantage as she continually forced Grau to pick up shidos throughout. The contest would eventually go to Golden Score and once again Bobrowska forced her German opponent to pick up a shido, and with it, claimed the victory.
Bobrowska came up against Poland’s Danuta Majcher in the next round, and although she was defeated, the way she rebounded from the loss was all the more impressive. The loss seemed to spur Bobrowska on further as she was drawn against another home judoka in the form of Zuzanna Pietrzak. She claimed an early waza-ari to calm the nerves before ending the contest with just over 40 seconds gone on the clock! Her bronze medal contest was even shorter as with only thirteen seconds on the clock, Bobrowska had superbly fought her way onto the podium to give herself a first Junior medal.
Olivia Piechota suffered disappointment in the bronze medal contest as she finished just outside of the medal positions. She started the day in good form and underlined her intentions to challenge for a medal as two ippon finishes accounted for her first two opponents. A tough third round contest awaited Piechota as she came up against Belgium’s Amber Ryheul. Ryheul is a current Senior World No.112 and this proved to be a hurdle too far for Piechota but she gave a very good account of herself as she forced the contest to Golden Score.
Annie Boby (-63kg) and Olivia Spellman (-63kg) both claimed 9th placed finishes in their respective categories.