Good weekend for juniors in Poland

It was another successful weekend for British Judo’s junior judoka as the six strong team finished with five medals and seventh place finish at the 2016 Gydnia Junior European Cup on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 July.

For the fourth competition in a row Lulu Piovesana topped the podium in the -63kg category winning three of her contests by ippon including the final against Michelle Benjamins (NED).

Acelya Toprak continued her impressive first year on the Junior tour with another bronze medal at -57kg while Rhys Thompson secured another podium finish, his third of 2016, with bronze.

However arguably the most impressive performances were from two players recently returned from injury. Lele Nairne (-57kg) had surgery on her hamstring in December 2015 and was competing in her first competition in over nine months.

Superb medical, physiotherapy and S&C support got Nairne back on the mat and in a strong field she won her first three contests by ippon including one in golden score against Aniek Norder (NED). The British judoka lost her semi-final to eventual gold medallist Yui Murai (JPN) but recovered well to beat Larissa Krevel (NED) for bronze with a waza-ari proving the difference.

Eric Ham (-73kg) was another judoka on the road back after surgery having received an operation on his elbow in February of this year. In just his second individual competition since his operation Ham had to come through six contests to place on the podium.

The British judoka won three repechage contests after losing out to Japan’s Yoshiaki Fukuoka (JPN) including a decisive win by ippon over Germany’s Christian Dill. In the bronze medal match a single yuko was the difference over Hryhory Klebcha (BEL) and gave Ham his first podium finish since the Deva Junior European Cup in Romania in August 2015.

In his final competition ahead of the Rio Olympics Ben Fletcher (-100kg) finished fifth at Tyumen Grand Slam in Russia on Sunday 17 July.