Olympic silver medallist Gemma Gibbons will return to competitive judo action at the Moscow Grand Slam in Russia this weekend (Saturday 20 July and Sunday 21 July), following a break from action due to injury.
A team of twelve athletes will enter the International Judo Federation World Tour event with world number 13 Gibbons (-78kg) being joined in Moscow by Sally Conway who is currently ranked 11th in the world in the -70kg category. European bronze medallist and -60kg world number 12, Ashley McKenzie also makes the trip, as does Natalie Powell who sits just four places below Gibbons in the world ranking list.
All four have been pre-selected for the IJF World Championships in Rio taking place at the end of next month and have all recently returned from a week long training camp training at Castelldefels in Spain.
Colin Oates (-66kg) has also been selected for the Grand Slam after his recent comeback from injury saw him place second in the El Salvador Pan American Open and is joined by Nathon Burns at the weight having placed fifth in San Salvador and also taking bronze in Tallinn European Open earlier last month.
Jan Gosiewski will be brimming with confidence at -73kg after his silver medal in Tallinn and will be joined at the weight by Patrick Dawson who took bronze in San Salvador. Kimberley Renicks (-48kg), another San Salvador bronze medallist, and +78kg fighter Sarah Adlington also make the trip.
Philip Awiti-Alcaraz (-100kg) and Nekoda Davis (-57kg) continue their transition into the senior squad and have been selected for their first senior Grand Slam after showing steady progress over this year.
Nekoda said: “I feel this is the next step up in terms of level, but I’m ready to take on the challenge.”
Lead Women’s Coach Kate Howey, said: “This is the last competition before the world championships and for the players pre-selected it is a competition to fine tune themselves and pick up some more valuable ranking points, which might help them to get seeded in the worlds. For the other players it is a chance to shine and push for selection for Rio.
“There is a mixture of experience within the team, for some it is their first Grand Slam and for others it is one of many. Last week’s training camp in Spain went very well and has set the players up nicely for Moscow.”
Words by Donna Richardson.