Despite the lack of a British medal at the 2013 World Judo Championships, there is plenty for the GB Judo programme to learn from the experience.
Whilst hopes of a medal were high following the success British athletes on this year’s IJF World Tour events, frustration was the overriding feeling at the end of the week as the team returned empty-handed despite some strong performances.
Colin Oates provided one of the highlights of the entire championships beating reigning Olympic Champion Lasha Shavdatushvili of Georgia and triumphing over double former World Champion and double Olympic bronze medallist Rishod Sobirov of Uzbekistan in the -66kg category. He lost out in the following round but will be brimming with confidence for future events, knowing that he can beat the world’s best.
There was also a strong display from junior european number one Nekoda Davis, who dominated her -57kg contest against former world and double european bronze medallist Hedvig Karakas leading comfortably by waza-ari before some inexperience saw her agonisingly thrown for ippon in the last second of the contest. It is an experience Davis will learn from and the championships will provide a valuable step in her quest to represent GB in Rio in three years time.
Expectation was high for both Gemma Gibbons and Sally Conway, but the latter was forced to withdraw the evening before competition due to a hip injury. Gibbons looked strong in the first contest of only her third tournament since her London 2012 silver medal in a year dogged by injuries. She was then caught by Viiktoria Turks, being held down for ippon and her dreams of becoming World Champion ended.
European bronze medallist Ashley McKenzie suffered a disappointing first round defeat as did World Championship debutants Jan Gosiewski, Philip Awiti-Alcaraz and Sarah Adlington.
The event also reaffirmed the importance of the world ranking list. Over half of the GB squad faced an Olympic, world or European medallist in their opening contest, a fate that could be avoided by gaining world ranking points from sending the right athletes to the right events on the IJF circuit.
Looking back at the championships, Performance Director Nigel Donohue said: “We are very disappointed to come away from Rio with no medals.
“It is early days for our new performance programme with the British Judo Centre of Excellence yet to open and progress still being made in many areas, but we’ve learned an awful lot throughout the build-up and championships themselves to both inform and re-affirm our strategy for the programme moving forward.
“Colin Oates was the highlight of the team’s performances in beating both the Olympic Champion and a double World Champion, a performance that confirms his ability to compete at the top level. Otherwise, we have to be realistic, these are not the standards of performances we are aiming for and we will analyse to understand why the team on the whole under-performed. The preparation and performances will be scrutinised when we de-brief on the 17 September and no stone will be unturned to learn from these championships and move the programme forward.
“We have a clear strategic plan in place for Rio 2016 and beyond, with performance markers we need attain in order to achieve our goals in Rio. The ranking of our players is of paramount importance as the lack of seedings has shown yet again with some incredibly tough first round draws, though ultimately whatever the draw we as a team have to perform, no excuses.
“The performance team will have gained from the experience in Rio and now the focus for everyone shifts to the upcoming Grand Prix event in Croatia and claiming results there.”