The British Olympic Association has today named the seven judoka who will compete for Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The squad comprises four women and three men and includes three athletes that competed for Team GB at London 2012.
Ashley McKenzie makes his second Olympic appearance in the men’s -60kg division with Colin Oates (-66kg) and Sally Conway (-70kg) also returning from four years ago.
Colin Oates, who finished seventh at London 2012, said:
“It’s always an honour to represent your country on the international stage and it doesn’t get any bigger than the Olympic Games. London was an amazing experience but I’ve put that to the back of my mind. I’m feeling good going into Rio, I’ve picked up some big medals in the last few years including silver at the Europeans this year and I’m confident that I can put in my best possible performance on the day.”
Benjamin Fletcher completes the men’s line-up and will go in the -100kg division, having turned out for Team GB at the inaugural European Games in Baku last year.
Two-time Masters medallist Natalie Powell will make her Olympic Games debut in the -78kg division while Alice Schlesinger (-63kg), who won Baku Grand Slam gold last month, and multiple Grand Prix medallist Nekoda Smythe-Davis (-57kg) round off the team.
Natalie Powell, who medalled at the European Championships earlier this year, said:
“It’s amazing to be selected for my first Olympic Games and I honestly cannot wait to step on the mat in Rio. I have demonstrated that I can consistently medal at the highest level and I have beaten many of the World’s top ten competitors. I’m really confident that come August with such a strong coach and team behind me I will be in the best shape possible to challenge the World’s best and stand at the top of the podium in Rio.”
Nigel Donohue, British Judo Performance Director and Judo Team Leader for Rio 2016 said:
“The team have earned their place at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games over a tough and intensive two-year qualification period and have produced some fantastic results. They have performed at a high standard and medalled and placed at European Championships, Grand Slams and Grand Prix with consistent wins against players in the World Top 10.
“We profiled the world’s best over the last cycle to understand what it takes to win at an Olympic Games and we wanted to qualify athletes who have a real chance of performing and potentially medalling. We are ready for the Games and believe in this team and that every one of them can produce their best possible performance in Rio with the support of their coaches and world-class support team.”
Judo first featured at the Olympic Games at Tokyo 1964 and men’s judo has been part of the sporting programme at every Games since Mexico City 1972 with women’s judo joining the full programme in Barcelona 1992 after being a demonstration event in Seoul 1988.
Team GB have won 18 Olympic judo medals since 1964 (eight silver and 10 bronze) with Gemma Gibbons and Karina Bryant winning silver and bronze respectively four years ago at London 2012.
Mark England, Team GB’s Chef de Mission, said:
“I’m proud to be able to welcome these judo players onto the team and it’s great to see so many familiar faces again selected to represent Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“Three of these athletes have previously competed at any Olympic Games and all seven were part of our squad for the Baku 2015 European Games. I’ve no doubt that they will draw on that multi-sport experience to ensure they fulfil their promise in Rio de Janeiro this summer.”
Today’s selection now brings the total number of selected Team GB athletes for Rio 2016 to 137 from 12 sports.
The selected athletes are:
Nekoda Smythe-Davis (women’s -57kg) 23, London
Alice Schlesinger (women’s -63kg) 28, Walsall, West Midlands
Sally Conway (women’s -70kg) 29, Edinburgh, Scotland
Natalie Powell (women’s -78kg) 25, Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, Wales
Ashley McKenzie (men’s -60kg) 26, Camberley, Surrey
Colin Oates (men’s -66kg) 33, Livingston, Scotland
Benjamin Fletcher (men’s -100kg) 24, Bath, Somerset