On the opening day of the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Chelsie Giles won silver whilst Sam Hall marked his Grand Slam debut by claiming bronze.
Olympic Games bronze medallist Giles recently returned to competition, claiming silver at the Baku Grand Slam. Abu Dhabi marked venue where Giles won her first Grand Slam medal back in 2018, where she claimed bronze.
Giles entered as 2nd seed, behind World Number 1 and Olympic silver medallist Amandine Buchard (FRA).
Giles overcame a potentially difficult opening round contest against Gantsetseg Ganbold (MGL) with relative ease. Ganbold trying to throw Giles with a seio-nage but Giles defended and countered with her trademark newaza to defeat her opponent and progress to the quarter-finals.
Giles had to wait until Golden Score to register her place in the semi-finals with victory over Alesya Kuznetsova (RUS).
The final was the contest everyone had hoped for; the Olympic bronze medallist Giles facing the current world number one, and Olympic silver medallist Buchard (FRA).
Unfortunately, the contest will not go down in the history books as one of the greats as Giles picked up three penalty shidos meaning the contest ended with Buchard claiming the gold and Giles having to settle for silver.
Giles was grateful to come through some tough contests to take her place on the podium: “It felt great to be back on the mat in Abu Dhabi, I always perform well here having picked up two bronze medals previously, so I am happy to be back on the podium to finish off the year. I am pleased to have come through some tough contests today against some top quality fighters.
“I am looking forward to competing at the British Championships in a few weeks time before having some time off over Christmas before getting back on the mat in 2022, where I will be looking to reach even higher.”
Sam Hall (-60kg) marked his Grand Slam debut by winning bronze. Competing for the first time since claiming gold at the Zagreb Grand Prix back in September, Hall entered as 5th seed and certainly lived up to that seeding as he swiftly dispatched Julien Frascadore (CAN) in the opening round before defeating 4th seed Sumiyabazar Enkhtaivan (MGL) to win his Pool and progress to the Semi-Finals.
A semi-final contest against Tokyo Olympic silver medallist Yung Wei Yang (TPE) followed, despite Hall starting strongly, the experience of Yang saw him progress to the Final, meaning Hall would fight for bronze.
It took Hall just 15 seconds to pin his opponent in osaekomi and using his strength on the ground to great effect, pinned his opponent, Oleh Veredyba (UKR) for the mandatory 20 seconds to claim the bronze medal.
Following his bronze medal win, Hall said: “It’s great to get my first Grand Slam medal today. There were some tough fights along the way, including the current world number 1, which looking back, I could have fought better. Coming back into the bronze match I was clear with my plan and it was a nice relief to catch him early on in newaza to secure the bronze. Overall it has been a good day. 3 wins, more ranking points and a bronze medal to end the international calendar year.”
Hall was quick to thank his coach, Fitzroy Davies following his medal win: “The past few weeks we have really increased the intensity of training, and it is great to see that hard work pay off.”
Elsewhere Acelya Toprak narrowly missed out on a medal, finishing 5th, but look in dominant for all day. She defeated third seed Julia Kowalczyk (POL) in the opening round with a display which never really saw the Olympic Games 7th place finisher get started in the contest.
Unfortunately, mistakes in both the semi-final and bronze medal contests meant Toprak had to settle for 5th.
Recent European U23 Championship bronze medallist Amy Platten was defeated by European Championship bronze medallist Sabina Giliazova (RUS) in the opening round of the -48kg category.
Tomorrow sees Lucy Renshall, Kelly Petersen-Pollard, Daniel Powell and Lachlan Moorhead in action. Coverage in Abu Dhabi starts at 8am (GMT) and you can watch the action LIVE on the British Judo homepage.