Lucy Renshall added another European title to her collection of medals after a superb day’s judo at the 2016 Under-23 European Judo Championships in Tel Aviv, Israel on Friday 11 November.
Last year the SKK judoka was crowned Junior European Champion just a few months before Amy Livesey’s gold at the 2015 Under-23 European Judo Championships. And with her performance today she ensured that the -63kg title stayed in British hands for another year.
Renshall was in impressive form from the start as she proved too good for Angeles Lopez Aguilera (ESP) as she threw her for yuko in one of the early exchanges. She then displayed her improved newaza to turn her opponent into osaekomi for the full 20 seconds.
Her last 16 contest with Croatia’s Maja Blagojevic was a much closer affair with a single yuko with a minute to go proving decisive against a tricky opponent. Her quarter-final showed her improving contest management and gripping as she forced Lea Reimann (GER) to pick up two shidos for defensive posture and stepping out respectively. Despite conceding a shido herself she was able to see out the contest with little worry.
This setup a semi-final against Magdalena Krssakova (AUT), who Renshall had beaten when they fought in the Tallinn European Open final in September. In a tight contest neither judoka was able to dominate but it was the British judoka who picked up the first shido due to passivity. However she responded well to force a shido on Krssakova for failing to grip up. Both fighters finished level at the end of regulation time meaning the contest would go into golden score.
Golden score would only last 53 seconds but a lot of action was packed into that time with each judoka looking to get ahead on attacks. However it was Renshall who won the tit for tat as she drove her opponent for waza-ari and booked a place in the gold medal match.
After the close nature of her previous two contests, Renshall saved arguably her best performance for last against Kamila Badurova (RUS). The British judoka went ahead by waza-ari in the opening minute and it was all control after that as she dominated the gripping exchanges and never allowed Badurova to get into the contest. Bar one slip in the final minute Renshall never really looked troubled ran the clock down despite picking up a couple of shidos.
Speaking afterwards Renshall was pleased that what she had been practicing in training was coming off in competition:
“I am very happy with how the day went. I think it was a good opportunity to get of matches against good girls. I think things I’m practicing in training are paying off in competition so that’s something important for me as a player.”
There were also seventh place finishes for Kelly Staddon (-48kg) and Acelya Toprak (-57kg) on day one of the Championship. Staddon was making her first international appearance since June but showed her defensive skills to see off Finland’s Marianne Kosonen, forcing her opponent to pick up two shidos.
Top seed Milica Nikolic (SRB) proved too strong as she went ahead by waza-ari and yuko before finishing the win in newaza. In the repechage final Turkey’s Gulkader Senturk was able to counter an attack by Staddon and throw her for ippon.
Acelya Toprak (-57kg) continued her strong form shown throughout 2016 as she dominated her opening contest with Ebba Glaas (SWE) as she went ahead by yuko early on. She added a waza-ari to that total not long after and as Glaas pressed in the last minute, she picked up a second waza-ari to take the win.
Home favourite Adi Grossman was next up and the Israeli judoka went ahead by yuko in the first minute as she came out strong. Toprak weathered the storm and got stronger as the contest wore on but wasn’t able to force a score with Grossman picking up two shidos as she went on the defensive.
Her repechage final against Daria Mezhetckaia (RUS) followed a similar pattern with the Russian dominating proceedings to go ahead by yuko and waza-ari. However she flagged in the last 90 seconds and despite Toprak’s best efforts she wasn’t able to force a fourth shido that would have given her the win.
Chelsie Giles (-52kg) and Sam Hall (-66kg) both went out in the last 16 having won their first contests of the day. Giles lost a close contest to Tihea Topolovec (CRO) by two yukos while Nils Stump (SUI) proved too strong for Hall.
Day two of the Championships will see four more British judoka in action with Jemima Yeats-Brown (-70kg), Ebony Drysdale-Daley (-70kg), Michelle Boyle (+78kg) and Jodie Myers (+78kg) looking to join Renshall in the medals.
Competition starts from 1000 local time (0800 UK time) with live coverage via EJU.net and the live blog
Picture credit: European Judo Union / Photographer: Carlos Ferreira