Tough First Day at Dusseldorf Grand Slam for GB

It was a difficult first day on the mat for GB Judo with no athletes progressing past the third round stage at the Dusseldorf Grand Slam.

With over 600 athletes entering the competition over the three days, GB knew going into Germany that the standard of competition would be world class.

Nekoda Smythe-Davis (-57kg) and Ashley McKenzie (-60kg) both won their opening contests of the day in their respective weight categories following byes in the first round. They would both fall at the next hurdle however.

Smythe-Davis was returning to the location of her maiden Grand Slam Gold medal following triumph in the 2018 edition of the competition.

It was a tricky opening match against Poland’s Julia Kowalczyk. A scrappy encounter that saw both fighters picking up shidos, much to Smythe-Davis’s frustration. She would eventually find a way to manoeuvre Kowalczyk to the mat to register ippon via newaza.

Home favourite Sappho Coban awaited the Brit in the third round and with the German crowd firmly behind Coban, Smythe-Davis found herself down a score in the opening exchanges; a kosoto-gari that would prove to be the difference. The German would see the clock out but Smythe-Davis could count herself unlucky that Coban was not awarded more shidos in the final two minutes.

Camberley’s McKenzie was first onto the mat on the day for GB in a contest that he dominated from start to finish. It was a tentative start to the contest but the Brit would eventually have too much for Rustam Ibrayev from Kazakhstan. Ibrayev would pick up shidos at increasing frequency under pressure from McKenzie. He couldn’t quite find a score in regulation time though as the contest progressed through to Golden Score. A third shido was finally awarded to Ibrayev to secure McKenzie’s path into the third round.

He came up against Diyorbek Uzozboev but could not find a way past the Uzbekistan judoka as McKenzie picked up three shidos. McKenzie picked up several shidos for false attacks and it would eventually prove to be his downfall in Dusseldorf.

Chelsie Giles (-52kg) suffered 2nd round disappointment as she was eliminated in her opening contest of the day following a bye in the opening round.

She came up against Romania’s Andreea Chitu, an opponent that she had defeated in their previous contest. She would come unstuck this time however as Chitu caught Giles early on to register ippon.

Action is due to get underway on the second day of competition at the Dusseldorf Grand Slam at 8:00am tomorrow morning with a further four athletes scheduled to take to the mat. Tune in at https://www.britishjudo.org.uk/ for full coverage from the event.