GB Judo Weekend Review: February 18 – 19 2017

It was a weekend of close calls for GB Judo as six judoka made it through to bronze medal contests in European Opens held in Rome and Oberwart.

Neil MacDonald throws for ippon on his way to the Semi Final

Saturday started off in furious style as Neil MacDonald (-60kg) displayed excellent judo throughout a flawless morning as he made his way to the semi finals despatching Adonis Diaz (USA) and Bas Koffijberg (NED), but he came up against a tough opponent, and eventual champion, Taikoh Fujisaka (JPN) in the quarter-finals. This proved a step too far for the 19 year old as Fujisaka used his experience to win be a single wazari. MacDonald made his way into the repechage as he defeated Sakhavat Gadzhiev but fell to World No.11 Vincent Limare in the bronze medal contest.

Sam Hall (-66kg) displayed a similar level of intensity of MacDonald as he brushed aside home favourite Gabriele Sulli, before going on to defeat Michal Bartusik (POL), Daniel Cargnin (BRA), and Joao Crisostomo (POR) before falling to defeat against Matteo Medves (ITA) at the semi final stage. This meant Sam would also fight for bronze where he came up against Joshiro Maruyama (JPN) but could not bring back the bronze.

In the -73kg category, Daniel Powell started the day well with victory in the first round but could not progress past the second round falling to Frenchman Guillaume Chaine. Eric Ham, however, looked like he might be able to claim his first European Open medal as he started the morning in good form to move into the quarter final but came up against eventual bronze medal winner Marcelo Contini (BRA) and fell to a well executed ippon and suffered a similar fate in the repechage. A seventh place finish none the less!

Ben Fletcher came away with a respectable bronze medal

Top seeded -100kg British Champion Ben Fletcher had looked on course for the final before being defeated by Johannes Frey (GER) by a single wazari. This moved the Team Bath judoka into the bronze medal contest where he used his experience to oust Italian Giuiliano Loporchio to bring back the medal. Andrew Melbourne (+100kg) also progressed to the bronze medal fight but could not find a way past Tamerlan Bashaev (RUS) and was awarded 3 shidos.

In Oberwart, the female GB squad looked in similar form as Kimberley Renicks (-48kg) showed good composure to move into the quarter finals but came up against inspired World No.2 Bokyeong Jeong (KOR) but this proved too much for Renicks as she moved into the repechage. She came up against Italian Michela Fiorini and defeated her via a single wazari but again fell to a Korean fighter, this time Yujeong Kang in the bronze medal fight.

Gemma Howell looked in good form throughout the weekend

It wasn’t to be for Chelsie Giles (-52kg) as she was eliminated in the first round along with returning Amy Livesey (-63kg) and Michelle Boyle (+78kg), while Lubjana Piovesana (-63kg) fared one round better before elimination in the second round.

Gemma Howell (-70kg) flew the GB flag in the bronze medal contest as the Wolverhampton judoka won her two opening fights via ippon to move into the quarter final but came up against World No.5 Kelita Zupancic (CAN) and fell into the repechage. A quick victory over Brazilian Barbara Timo meant she would be fighting for bronze against Alica Bellandi (ITA) and she pulled off a great victory throwing for waza-ari before finishing the contest with 60 seconds with some great newaza.

BUCS Nationals 2017

Anglia Ruskin and Wolverhampton Universities put in particularly strong showings with Coventry, Edinburgh and Edinburgh Napier also prominent in the medal tables.

Notably Loughborough, typically a dominant force across student sport, only took home one gold medal from Saturday’s Judo.

Notably Emmanuel Nartey followed through on a promise to defend his title, claiming Gold in the men’s under 73kg category for more experienced Judokas, graded at 1st Kyu and above. The University of East London PhD student is currently the 50th ranked Judoka in the world and expected nothing less than gold at the BUCS Nationals.

Other male champions in the more experienced ranks included Anglia Ruskin’s Ben Caldwell (under 60kg) and Billy Goldsmith (under 66kg), and to finish off Anglia Ruskin’s batch of champions Mateja Glusac triumphed in the under 100kg category. Bath’s Jan Gosiewski (-81kg), Coventry’s Jamal Petgrave (-90kg) also took gold and Sheffield Hallam’s James Austin scored a win for the home team in the over 100kg category.

For the women graded at 1st Kyu and above there was more success for Coventry as Olivia Piechota took gold in the under 48kg category. Olivia has been practicing Judo since the age of six and is one of the most experienced competitors at the BUCS Nationals. Emma Reid also racked up a gold for Coventry in the under 78kg category.

The other women taking gold in the 1st Kyu and above categories included Kate Saunders (over 78kg) representing St. Andrews, Bath’s Prisca Awiti-Alcaraz (-63kg) and Julia Scardone (-52kg) who represented the University of East London. Wolverhampton also racked up a double with Acelya Toprak and Ebony Drysdale-Daley taking gold in the -57kg and -70kg categories respectively.

Cadet European Cup, Fuengirola (Spain)

Amy Platten (3rd) and Yasmin Javadian (2nd) continued their fine recent form with a bronze and silver medal respectively this weekend. The pair both medalled last week in their previous competitions at Italy. There was also a silver medal for Daniel Rabbitt (Silver, -55kg) and placings for Thomas Lish (7th, -90kg), Beau Farrance and Matthew Boyce (both 7th, +90kg), and Emily Cooper (5th, -63kg). The team will be hoping that they can continue their fine start to 2017, once the Antalya European Cup arrives on 4th and 5th March.