Ashley McKenzie won bronze for Great Britain in day one of this weekend’s International Judo Federation (IJF) Miami Grand Prix event.
The Miami Grand Prix forms part of the IJF World Tour, carrying valuable points for the world rankings.
London star McKenzie went into the event in good form, having followed up his European Championship bronze medal with fifth place in the Baku Grand Slam. Sat 15th in the world rankings, McKenzie knew a good result would help boost his position in the rankings and his chance to be seeded at the Rio World Championships in June.
McKenzie started with an ippon victory over young athlete Francisco Garrigos of Spain in a little over one minute.
This set up a pool final against Russia’s Aram Grigoryan, reigning Junior European Champion. In a tight contest McKenzie fought well and drew three shido from his opponent to book a place in the semi-final.
McKenzie faced Brazilian Eric Takabatake in the semi-final and being two shido down, was caught for ippon just inside three minutes, leaving the Londoner to fight for Bronze.
The bronze medal contest saw McKenzie face former European silver medallist Ludovic Chammartin of Switzerland. McKenzie put in a convincing display, on the front foot from the start and threw the 28 year old for ippon to claim the -60kg bronze medal.
After competition McKenzie said: “I felt good but I really feel I could of won gold. I just lost concentration in the semi final and at this level you can’t do that, but I’m happy to come back and get the bronze and its a good feeling to get my first Grand Prix medal.
“Winning a fight on the ground is also a great step for me as I’ve been working on it a lot at Camberley with Luke (Preston) and rest of the Camberley lads.
“I was really happy with my fight against the Russian as I lost to him not so long ago and not only winning but the way I did, keeping him at bay and giving him no chance in the fight.”
Connie Ramsay took Great Britain’s next best result of the day, taking fifth place at -57kg. Ramsay lost out in the pool final to home athlete Marti Malloy, coming back through the repechage beating Brazil’s Flavia Gomes, before losing out to experienced German athlete Miryam Roper, held down for ippon to claim fifth.
Fellow Scot Kimberly Renicks placed seventh in the women’s -48kg category. Renicks lost her pool final and was defeated by Latiteia Payet of France in the repechage.
Colin Oates made his return to international action and won his first contest before losing to Mongolia’s Khishigbayar Buuveibaatar by a single shido in an evenly matched fight.
Athletes in action in day two of competition tomorrow include Sally Conway (-70kg). Action starts at 15:00 BST with the final block at 22:00 BST, live at www.ippon.tv