Optimism turns to disappointment on frustrating first day in Budapest

British judokas endured a frustrating first day at the Budapest Grand Prix in Hungary, one of the final tests ahead of the Commonwealth Games and an International Judo Federation (IJF) World Tour event.

Ashley McKenzie (-60kg), Patrick Dawson (-73kg), Nedkoda Davis (-57kg), Jodie Mullen (-63kg) and Louise Renicks (-52kg) all had good wins in their opening contests but all were then beaten the next time they stepped on to the mat.

Olympian McKenzie went into the event looking for a second Grand Prix medal to boost his confidence ahead of the Commonwealth Games and he started impressively by making light work of Latvia’s Andrejas Magers in his first contest, winning by ippon.

But the Camberley club man was then unlucky against Vugar Shirinli of Azerbaijan as he led by a waza-ari, only for Shirinli to snatch an equalising score on the buzzer to force a golden period.

The pair then traded single waza-aris and three shidos apiece in the extra period before McKenzie was controversially penalised for passivity to give Shirinli the win a single shido.
Afterwards, a disappointed McKenzie felt he had let the contest slip from his grasp and vowed to learn from it with Glasgow on the horizon.

“I started the tournament well and felt sharp,” he said.
“I felt in control of my second fight but made a mistake on the buzzer.”
“I must learn from this and continue to work hard on my concentration when leading a fight”

Penalties was the difference for Mullen in her first-round contest against Croatia’s Andreja Dakovic but this time, the Briton was the one to benefit.

That set up a tough second-round contest for Mullen against world no.3 Anicka Van Emden of Holland, a world bronze medalist in both 2011 and 2013.

Mullen, of the Edinburgh club, put up a great fight but in the end, Van Emden took it on shidos.

Like McKenzie, Davis who now trains at the British Judo Centre of Excellence in Walsall, won her opening contest by ippon, against Shushana Hevadonian of Ukraine.
But Helene Receveaux of France proved too strong for the Ealing club member in the next round as Davis lost by waza-ari and yuko.

“Losing is never great, but the support from home has been fab,” said Jo Crowley, her coach at Ealing.

“Nekoda says she will bring you all a Grand Prix medal soon.”

Scotsman Dawson had an excellent opening contest against Georgios Azoidis of Greece, winning by a single yuko.

But he was on the wrong side another close contest in the next round as Ukraine’s Serhiy Drebot beat the Edinburgh club man by two shidos.

Dawson’s Edinburgh club-mate Renicks began with a fine win over Bulgaria’s Magdalena Varbanova, the Scottish judoka taking it by a single shido.

However, France’s Priscilla Gneto was too good in round two and won by ippon.

Stephanie Inglis (-57) and Sarah Clark (-63kg) both suffered first-round exits, Inglis losing to Bulgarian Ivelina Ilieva by ippon and Clark to Spain’s Isabel Puche by waza-ari and yuko.

Tomorrow sees Gemma Gibbons and Euan Burton in action, along with Chris Sherrington, Tom Reed, Owen Livesey and brother and sister Ben and Megan Fletcher.

Words by John Smith.