Seventh Place For Stuart McWatt at the Dusseldorf Grand Slam

It was a medalless day for GB Judo on the mat at the second day of competition at the Dusseldorf Grand Slam.

Stuart McWatt’s seventh place finish provided the result of the day for the squad. It was only the Scot’s fifth major competition since returning from a 2nd ACL operation that has sidelined him for a large majority of his junior career.

The result back up Nekoda Smythe-Davis’s Gold medal and Ashley McKenzie’s 5th placed finish picked up yesterday that has seen GB Judo finish in the placings on at least one occasion on both days of the competition so far.

He started off the day in fine fashion as he defeated the likes of Samuel Ayala (MEX) and Laszlo Csoknyia (HUN).

Each of his opening fights followed a similar pattern as McWatt forced the issue early on and registered early waza-ari scores to keep him breathing space. In his contest against Ayala in the opening round, it provided the springboard that allowed him to be more expressive with his judo and was able to finish the contest via ippon. The early waza-ari was enough to see off Csoknyia in the second round.

With what was his throw of the day, a tomoe-nage accounted for World No.36  Abdelaziz Ben Ammar (TUN) in the 3rd round.

World Number 4 Saeid Mollaei from Iran awaited McWatt in the Quarter Finals. Mollaei used his experience over McWatt to good effect as he continually forced him to the mat before eventually forcing him to submit.

With little time between contests, McWatt only had 10 minutes before his Repechage Final against Russia’s Aslan Lappinagov. He struggled to get to grips with the Russian’s style of judo and succumbed to defeat in newaza for a second contest to see his hopes of a first Grand Slam medal come to an end.

There were disappointing first round exits for a number of GB athletes. Owen Livesey (-81kg), Lucy Renshall (-63kg), Gemma Howell (-70kg) and Danny Williams (-73kg).

Owen Livesey was the first GB representative on the mat today as he came up against Spain’s Alfonso Uquiza Solana in the opening round of the -81kg. It was a bright start from Livesey as he took the lead through a well-timed waza-ari attack, but the Spaniard scouted Livesey and took his opportunity to throw for ippon.

Lucy Renshall (-63kg) was fresh from a 5th place finish in the Paris Grand Slam just two weeks ago as she faced off against Kiyomi Watanabe from the Philippines. Renshall was quick out of the blocks as she tried to force Watanabe around the mat and put her under increasing pressure. A moment of brilliance from Watanabe swung the fight in her favour though, and it proved to be the vital waza-ari score to eliminate Renshall.

Gemma Howell (-70kg) gave away several inches in height as she face Germany’s Sarah Maekelburg in her opening contest. Howell was never really offered a way into the fight by the German as she was forced to the mat on a number of occasions and Maeklebury eventually scored the victory via newaza.

In the -73kg, Danny Williams crashed out to Russia’s Saian Ondar as he picked up three shidos throughout the contest. It was a fight that lacked really action and Williams picked up the third shido with 30 seconds left on the clock.

Sunday 25 February will see five British judoka on the mat as Natalie Powell (-78kg), Sarah Adlington (+78kg), Jamal Petgrave (-90kg), Frazer Chamberlain (-90kg) and Andrew Melbourne (+100kg) look for medals.

Competition starts at 0900 UK time with live coverage via https://www.britishjudo.org.uk/ and @BritishJudo on Twitter.