Faith Pitman won a gold medal as Great Britain enjoyed a successful first day of the Rijeka Grand Prix with Colin Oates also taking bronze.
After striking gold at the San Salvador Continental open earlier this year, Faith Pitman completed a career best victory with a Grand Prix gold, her first IJF World Tour medal, this time in Croatia.
The Rijeka Grand Prix is an IJF World Tour event, with plenty of valuable ranking points on offer for Britain’s judoka.
Fighting for Britain in the women’s -63kg category, Pitman started in fine form beating home judoka Andreja Dakovic by a waza-ari and yuko in the first round.
The judoka then claimed a late waza-ari victory over Hannah Martin of the USA for a place in the semi-final.
She then saw off Frenchwoman Anne-Laure Bellard with a victory by ippon to set up a final against Spain’s Isabel Puche .
Essex judoka Pitman started well against Puche and countered the Spainiard’s attack winning by ippon.
Great Britain Lead Women’s Coach, Kate Howey said: “It was a great performance by Faith today she dominated from start to finish and put in a solid display. She showed that she can win in both tachi waza (final) and ne-waza (semi-final).
“She will take the confidence gained here onto Rome next month.”
Commenting on the victory Faith Pitman said: “I feel really happy with my performance today.
“This is the biggest win of my career so far and I hope I will take this form onto Rome next month.
“I hope I made everyone at West Essex JC proud today.”
Britain’s second medal – a bronze, was claimed by 2012 Olympian Colin Oates, the -66kg world number 18.
Full of confidence and fresh from defeating the London 2012 gold medallist and a double-world champion in back-to-back contests in Rio, he held down Andraz Jereb of Slovenia for ippon following a waza-ari throw in the bronze contest.
His journey to the podium began with an ippon against 21-year old Spaniard Carlos Cases, the Junior European Cup silver medallist, in his first round. He then claimed another over Jasper Lefevere of Belgium after earlier dominating that match with a waza-ari and yuko.
The Olympian was in fine form, but Segiy Pliyev of Ukraine who went on to claim the -66kg silver, caught him for ippon off the first exchange, sending him into the bronze medal contest.
Meanwhile, fellow Olympian Daniel Williams made it to the -73kg bronze fight, but finished fifth after he was pinned down for ippon by Aleksei Astafev of Russia.
His highlight was throwing German Rene Schneider for ippon in the repechage to reach the bronze medal contest.
Connie Ramsay (-57kg) and Nathon Burns (-66kg) both finished seventh, Ramsay having defeated Continental Champion Korean Kim Kyung-Ok by ippon in the first round before losing out to Cindy Huber of France and Stephanie Tremblay of Canada in the repechage.
Burns, as the second -66kg British judoka in this competition had an early ippon triumph over Austrian Alexander Weichinger, but his final match was taken away from him by Sergiy Pliyev who claimed the scalp of this second GB athlete in a victory by ippon.
Also in action was Tallinn World Cup silver medallist Jan Gosiewski, who exited early on shidos to Gesualdo Scollo of Italy.
Sunday sees Olympic Silver medallist Gemma Gibbons and Natalie Powell in action in the -78kg category. Sarah Adlington competes at +78kg, with Tom Reed (-81kg) and Matt Purssey (-90kg) completing the line up.
Action starts at 10:00 BST and can be watched live on www.ippon.tv
Image courtesy of Zahony – IJF.org
By Donna Richardson.