Powell takes bronze on final day of Düsseldorf Grand Prix

Great Britain added a bronze medal to their haul from the IJF World tour Düsseldorf Grand Prix as Natalie Powell showed “Olympic class” to execute a fantastic ippon against Madeline Malonga of France, an opponent who she last beat in Abu Dhabi.

Today, Natalie Powell and Ben Fletcher fought respective opponents among a field of Olympians; with Powell going on to seize bronze from Malonga by first throwing her for waza-ari and then pinning her down for ippon in osaekomi, having earlier trailed by waza-ari and yuko.

Her success follows Olympian Sally Conway’s silver medal yesterday, reflecting well on Great Britain’s women’s team.

Powell’s blaze to bronze began as she emulated GB’s Olympic silver medallist Gemma Gibbons’ London 2012 first round victory over Yahima Ramirez with one of her own – winning by a yuko.

The result advanced her to the quarter-finals against her nemesis Anamari Velensek of Slovenia, however she lost to the Olympian by ippon.

However, Powell bounced back to win the repechage by a waza-ari against Ivana Maranic of Croatia and then fought for bronze against the Paris Grand Prix medallist Malonga.

She said:”I am quite happy with the result and I am pleased with my bronze fight as I came from behind to win. I now have the training camp here and a few weeks of training to work on things for the next Grand Prix in Samsun, Turkey.”

Lead women’s coach Kate Howey added: “It was a good day for Natalie and a good win against the Frenchwoman Malonga. She was behind a few scores but showed composure to bring it back and win the bronze.”

Meanwhile, Glasgow 2013 European Open silver medallist Fletcher suffered a tough draw as he faced former Olympic Champion Tuvshinbayar Naidan of Mongolia in his first round. However, to his credit he conducted himself confidently on the mat as an equal, remaining strong throughout the contest. In the end, his uchi-mata move was countered by seoi-nage for ippon.

The competition saw the world’s best fighters in action and the Sunday saw at least two more Olympic champions in action including +78kg London 2012 champion Idalys Ortiz, who Sarah Adlington beat two weeks ago in Paris and Ilias Iliadis (-90kg former Olympic gold medallist) to mention but a few.

“I’m pleased with the progress that Ben is making in this category and on another day I am sure that the result would have been in his favour,” said Chris Bowles, lead men’s coach.

“Of course, Ben is disappointed but he feels positive that he is young in the weight category and feels sure that there will be better performances in the future.”

Many will stay on for the training camp in Düsseldorf, with Ashley McKenzie (-60kg) joining them to get some practice in ahead of the next clash in Warsaw at the European Open at the start of March.

Words by Donna Richardson. Image courtesy of IJF Media G. Sabau