Third round finish for McKenzie in Abu Dhabi

Ashley McKenzie’s third round finish was the highlight for British Judo on the first day of the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi on Friday 30 October.

McKenzie started off the day by defeating German based Palestinian judoka Simon Yacoub. The Camberley judoka was typically agile across the mat and exploited a momentary loss of balance from Yacoub, to throw his opponent for an ippon within three minutes to progress to the next round. 

In the second round McKenzie took on Belgium’s Senne Wyns who had a bye in the first round. McKenzie was seeking revenge after losing their only previous encounter at the Warsaw European Open two years ago. The Briton started brightly and proved too strong for Wyns, with McKenzie scoring an ippon to end the contest after only 1 minute and 45 secs. 

The third round saw McKenzie take on experienced judoka Bekir Ozlu of Turkey. Ozlu pulled off the biggest upset of the day by defeating world no.3 Yeldos Smetov (KAZ) in the second round on route to his showdown with McKenzie. Going into the contest the Turk was ranked 43 places below his Kazakhstani opponent. 

Despite being weary of Ozlu’s ability, McKenzie looked composed and comfortable in the early exchanges but conceded a waza-ari on the 2 minute mark. Moments later McKenzie was caught by a powerful throw for an ippon which sealed another impressive win for the Turkish judoka. Ozlu capped off an impressive morning session by beating world no.12 Vicent Limare (FRA) to win Pool C. 

Elsewhere, in the -57kgs Nekoda Davis was defeated in the first round by Polish underdog Arleta Podolak. Podolak put in stubborn performance to beat the 22-year-old Londoner with two yukos.

GB Performance Coach Jean-Paul Bell said: “Ashley was fighting well today and produced some nice throws on his way to the last 16. Unfortunately he got caught with a lovely piece of judo despite edging the early part of the match. He will be disappointed but has gained points for Rio and will push on to the next event”. 

Tomorrow will see 2014 British Champion Alice Schlesinger (-63kg) and this year’s Baku Grand Slam gold medallist Sally Conway (-70kg) going for gold. 

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