Seventh place finish for Natalie Powell on Olympic Debut

Natalie Powell finished seventh in the -78kgs on the final day of action for Britain’s judoka at the Olympic Games in Rio.

Powell started the day in fine form against Gabon’s Sarah Myriam Mazouz. By stepping onto the mat, Powell made history by becoming the first Welsh judoka to represent Great Britain at the Olympics. She started with a ferocious energy which Mazouz was unable to contain, conceding two shidos right at the start. The Irfon judoka then executed a wonderful hip throw to score an ippon to end the contest in under two minutes.

That set up a quarter final match against the formidable World Number 2 and 2011 World Champion Andrey Tcheumeo of France. Tcheumeo was famously defeated by Great Britain’s Gemma Gibbons in the semi-final in London four years ago. Despite there being parity in the early exchanges Powell conceded a shido before a cut lip forced Tcheumeo to leave the mat.

After receiving extensive medical treatment to stem the flow of blood, Tcheumeo returned to the mat with Powell eager to get the contest started again. Although slightly disorientated Tcheumeo used all of her experience and strength to make things difficult for Powell. With one minute to go Powell conceded another shido which ultimately decided the contest.

Defeat to Tcheumeo sent Powell into the repechage where she faced Germany’s Luise Malzahn who had earlier been defeated by Mayra Aguiar of Brazil. Powell had only beaten the German judoka once in seven previous attempts and in a change of tactic from the her previous match, went on the attack from the start.

The Welsh judoka used her strength and determination to force Malzahn to conceded a shido for passivity early on. Powell tried to execute several hip throws to put some distance between her and Malzahn on the scoreboard. However, her efforts were unsuccessful as the German saw and took an opportunity to throw Powell for an ippon to end Great Britain’s involvement in the judo at Rio 2016.

Ben Fletcher was also making his Olympic debut today in the men’s -100kg category.

Fletcher had a tough first round draw against 20 year old dark horse Beka Gviniashvli of Georgia. The Team Bath and Pinewood judoka kept the Georgian at bay and took an early lead via shido with Gviniashvli adjudged to have used both hands to break a Fletcher’s grip.

However, Gviniashvli started to become more frustrated and you sensed an upset could be on the cards. But Gviniashvli showed great strength and ability to execute a powerful throw for waza-ari which then became an ippon. 23 year old Fletcher will take a lot away from that experience and will now look forward to qualifying for Tokyo in four years’ time.

Although there is no British involvement on the final day of the judo event in Rio you can tune in to watch the heavyweights battle it out for Olympic glory via the BBC Website.

If you were inspired by Sally Conway‘s bronze and the rest of judo action and want to have a go at Judo visit #ThrowYourselfIntoJudo.