GB women bring back silver and bronze medals from Rome as men return empty-handed from Austria

Great Britain took two medals at the European Open for women in Rome with Natalie Powell (-78kg) and Sally Conway (-70kg) seizing silver and bronze respectively in the Italian capital.

Following the recent Paris Grand Slam, many of the world’s top fighters stayed over on the continent ahead of the IJF World tour Grand Prix in Dusseldorf this coming weekend.

Powell climbed onto the podium in second place, with ippons against Sofie De Saedelaere of Belgium and Geraldine Mentouopou of France.

In the final, Mami Umeki of Japan turned the tables with an ippon of her own, forcing the Briton to settle for silver.

“I felt sharp and fought well in the earlier half of the day, scoring ippons all the way to the final,” she said.

“However, I felt I could have performed better but these were great matches to get under my belt, especially following the disappointment of Paris.”

In the bronze medal match, Conway gripped Tomoe Ueno in a winning armlock for ippon during ne-waza for her medal.

The path to the podium involved an early ippon victory against Valeriane Fichot of France and a loss to the eventual gold medallist Karen Nunira of Japan.

However, she bounced back to claim an ippon over Alena Prokopenko of Russia in the bronze medal contest.

“It was a strong entry and I knew I would have some hard fights,” said Conway.

“I was happy with how I fought and the training has paid off. Rome has highlighted the things I still have to work on to be better and I am looking ahead to the next tournament.”

Meanwhile, Nekoda Davis (-57kg) and Faith Pitman (-63kg) achieved seventh place. Kim Renicks (-48kg) exited early after losing on penalties to an Italian, while Kelly Edwards (-52kg) suffered an ippon defeat in the second round to a Mexican.

GB’s women’s lead coach Kate Howey said: “There were great performances all round and medals from Natalie and Sally.

“Natalie strangled the Frenchwoman in the semi-final, the first she has ever done in competition.

“Her ne-waza was strong and she also showed massive improvement in her edge play and tactical awareness.

“Sally showed some great ne-waza for her bronze medal, arm-locking the Japanese judoka who medalled in the Korean Grand Prix.

“It was a strong competition and this will give them all the confidence they need in Germany.”

Over at the European Open for men in Oberwart, Austria, there were no medals, as all players exited early, amidst a formidable field of fighters.

On Saturday, Nathon Burns (-66kg) and Jan Gosiewski (-73kg) were out in their first rounds.

The following day also saw Max Stewart (-81kg), Tom Reed (-81kg) both suffer early defeats while Ben Fletcher (-100kg) reached the second round, losing to Remarenco of the United Arab Emirates. Chris Bowles, lead coach for the men’s team said:

“This was a particularly tough event with a host of top nations in attendance.

“Therefore it was an opportunity to mix with the best and we will learn from this and I’m sure we will be stronger for Germany next week.”

By Donna Richardson. Photos IJF – European Open in Rome by Emanuele Di Feliciantanio and Christian Fidler.