Golden girl Powell takes Astana Grand Prix title

Welsh Commonwealth Champion Natalie Powell (-78kg) took her first ever World Tour gold at the Astana Grand Prix, beating Dusseldorf and Samsun Grand Prix gold medallist Luise Malzahn.

Powell’s path to the top of the podium began with an ippon against Albina Amangeldiyeva of Kazakhstan, followed by another against Assunta Galeone of Italy before executing the winning waza-ari over German Malzahn.

This medal is Powell’s best at Grand Prix level and follows her recent successes fighting for GB at the 2014 Samsun Grand Prix (silver, Abu Dhabi 2013 and 2012 (silver) and Zagreb 2014 (bronze).

Powell was delighted with her Grand Prix Gold: “I am really pleased to pick up my first Grand Prix Gold yesterday. I felt that I put in a good performance and managed to beat a couple of the top girls that I haven’t beaten before. It was great to get 300 points towards qualifying for Rio to, which is at the top of my priority list.”

GB coach for the event and bronze Olympic medallist Dennis Stewart said: “I think Natalie showed great maturity all day expecially in the final, after going behind so early in the contest. She kept her head by not panicking and fought back to defeat a strong German player.”

Sarah Adlington (+78kg) finished fifth in Astana. The +78kg Commonwealth Champion for Scotland lost her first fight against Iryna Kindzerska of Ukraine but bounced back in the repechage to win against Gulsah Kocaturk of Turkey. Svitlana Iaromka of Ukraine took the bronze by ippon.

On Saturday, Commonwealth England gold medallist Megan Fletcher took fifth place. She narrowly lost out by a single yuko to Szaundra Diedrich of Germany in the bronze medal match.

“Natalie gave a great performance today achieving a personal best and beating the number one seed in an exciting final full of scores and drama, said Euan Burton the other supporting coach.
“It is another excellent result for Natalie and for British Judo.

“Overall, one gold, one bronze and two fifth places is a strong GB result at a Grand prix and the seven players who have self funded to next weekend’s Uzbekhistan Grand Prix will be looking to add to that tally.”

Words by Donna Richardson. Image Courtesy ofIJF Media by G. Sabau.