It was a heart-breaking morning Gemma Howell as she was defeated in the opening round of her -70kg contest at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Drawn against the 2017 World Championship silver medallist Maria Perez (PUR), Howell entered the contest having defeated her Puerto Rico opponent on 4 of their previous 5 encounters.
There was nothing between the two fighters at the end of the regulated 4-minute contest. The fight entered Golden Score with Perez having amassed two penalty shidos to Howell’s one. However, as the contest entered its 9th minute, Howell was awarded a 3rd shido which handed victory, and a place I the second round, to Perez.
Speaking after the contest, a distraught Howell said:
“I felt as prepared as I was ever going to be. I cannot fault the preparation; I ultimately did not perform on the day.
“I would have given anything to have been here 12 months ago, although I do not feel like that at the moment. I am sure when I look back in a week or so, I can be proud of what I have achieved in making my second Olympic Games.”
Talking about her support team back home:
“I have the best support team around me, everybody from my family and friends to British Judo, I just want to say sorry for my performance.”