Nekoda Smythe-Davis continued her recent good form with another medal winning performance as she won a silver medal on the opening day of the Zagreb Grand Prix in Croatia.
The World Championships bronze medal claimed a second successive medal in another impressive day of judo. The final was an epic nine minute contest against Japanese opponent Momo Tamaoki after the score remained level after regulation time. Smythe-Davis had picked up two shidos throughout regulation so needed to be careful during Golden Score. Tamaoki did a great job of nullifying any attack made by Smythe-Davis and with four and a half minutes of Golden Score gone, she picked up a third shido after Tamaoki upped the pace to attack three times in succession without reply.
Smythe-Davis sailed through the opening half of the draw following a bye in the first round. In first contest of the day she came up against youngster Iva Oberan. In front of her home crowd, Oberan rarely threatened the experience Smythe-Davis and she was able to comfortably control the contest scoring with two waza-aris.
The quarter final came and went in under 30 seconds as she claimed an ippon victory over Slovenia’s Kaja Kajzer in just 23 seconds. The semi final was a closer affair as she came up against tricky Russian Daria Mezhetskaia. It was a gruelling contest that went to Golden Score. The Russian came out of the blocks quickly in GS as she looked to end things early, but Smythe-Davis was savvy to the advances. It wasn’t until Mezhetskaia lost concentration in the corner of the mat, that Nekoda was able to get the vital score and progress through to the final.
Ashley McKenzie (-60kg) claimed a 7th place finish in Croatia as he lost in the repechage final to Azerbaijan fighter Mehman Sadigov. McKenzie had looked in good form earlier in the day as he breezed past Goncalo Mansinho (POR) in the second round after receiving a bye in the first round.
He came up against Bekir Ozlu (TUR) in the quarter finals. The pair had previously met twice before, the most recent of which was a victory for McKenzie at the Rio Olympics last year. It was to be Bekir Ozlu’s day today however as he secured four waza-ari scores to drop McKenzie into the repechage. He never managed to get going in the repechage final as he succumbed to a single waza-ari loss.
Sam Hall (-60kg) suffered a disappointing day on the mat as he exited at the first round stage to Azerbaijan’s Davud Mammadsoy. The contest went the distance but it was Hall that found himself on the wrong side of a single waza-ari scoreline to eliminate him from the Grand Prix.