Sally Conway Wins Dusseldorf Grand Slam Gold

Sally Conway and Lubjana Piovesana led the way for GB Judo on the second day of competition at the Dusseldorf Grand Slam in Germany with excellent displays of judo.

Conway claimed a first Dusseldorf Gold medal with a series of impressive victories on the mat which was underlined by her dominance in the Gold medal contest. Germany’s Miriam Butkereit stood in the way of Conway recording her best result on the mat in Germany and she was in no mood to hang around! Butkereit had won their only previous contest at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam last year but no one would stand in Conway’s quest for Gold today as Conway forced her to submit in the opening minute.

Conway received a bye in the opening round and opened her account with a routine win over Gabriella Willems from Belgium. Two waza-ari scores underlined her dominance in the early round.
A regulation win over China’s Anqi Sun in Round 3 courtesy of her trademark newaza skills set up a Quarter Final against Maria Bernabeu (ESP). The Spaniard had eliminated Conway at each of their past two competitions at Paris and the World Masters. There would be no stopping “Super Sal” today though as she avenged those two defeats by forcing Bernabeu to submit in under 30 seconds!

Brazil’s Ellen Santana proved to be no match for Conway on her current form as she too was swept aside. This contest lasted slightly longer than her previous rounds though with a scoreless opening minute. The Brazilian demonstrated solid defensive skills in the opening exchanges to keep Conway at bay, but the Brit would eventually find a way past the defences to register waza-ari and make the transition into newaza to again force another opponent to submit to secure her route to the final.

“After going out first fight in Paris a few weeks ago, I am really happy to have won today here in Germany” Conway commented after the final.

“I took each fight one by one and focussed on delivering the judo I’m capable of in each exchange.”

Piovesana began the day in fine fashion with a win over high ranked Polish judoka Agata Ozdoba-Blach, who currently sits at No.15 in the World Rankings. It was a close fought contest with shidos awarded on regular occurrences throughout with the tentative start from Ozdoba-Blach punished eventually as she picked up a third shido.

In one of the most memorable wins of her career to date, Piovesana came up against Slovenia’s Olympic Champion Tina Trstenjak in Round 3. The Brit held her opponent scoreless over regulation time as she superbly defended an early onslaught from Trstenjak. She held her nerve in Golden Score to counter an attempted attack from the Slovenian to register ippon and progress.

Her Quarter Final match up against Netherland’s Sanne Vermeer was certainly a dramatic one! Piovesana found herself a waza-ari score up but was picking up shidos with increasing frequency as the contest wore on. Vermeer thought she had levelled the scores with less than twenty seconds remaining on the clock only for the officials to chalk off the score and leave Piovesana with a potentially tricky period to negotiate, which she did admirably.

She couldn’t quite find a way past Japan’s World No.7 Miku Tashiro in the Semi Finals though. The young Brit almost registered another impressive win as she lifted Tashiro off her feet early on which drew gasps from the crowd but she couldn’t quite find the rotation in the move. A third shido dropped her into the Bronze medal contest.

Slovenia’s Andreja Leski awaited Piovesana in the Bronze medal contest. The two had previously trained together last year so the pair were familiar with each other’s style. A single waza-ari from Leski left Piovesana without a spot on the podium but a very creditable fifth placed finish!

Coach Kate Howey was suitably impressed with the efforts of Conway and Piovesana, “Sally fought really well today and was very clinical in everything she did, especially her ground work.

“It is good to see her smiling again after the disappointment of the Paris Grand Slam.”

“Lulu has had a great day on the mat and showed what she can do against top players and beating the Olympic Champion. It’s a shame that she has come away without a medal but has some good experience and things to work on going forward.”

Stuart McWatt showed glimpses of his potential in -81kg competition with an early victory over Canada’s Antoine Valois-Fortier with a single waza-ari is score the difference.

This set up an interesting encounter with World No.8 Aslan Lappinagov (RUS). It was a tight contest throughout with the Russian athlete looking to take McWatt to the mat at every opportunity. The two couldn’t be separated in regulation time but McWatt found himself caught via osoto-gari to send Lappinagov though at the Brit’s expense.

Amy Livesey (-63kg) exited the competition in her opening contest as she could not find a way past Japan’s Tingxian Yao.