The GB Judo VI squad made the journey to Fort Wayne, Indiana, for the IBSA International Qualifier 3rd-4th July. The Qualifier is an important competition as world ranking points are on offer to athletes, therefore it was important for the team to be in top form as world ranking places can secure an athlete’s selection to the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Following a bye in the opening round, Chris Skelley (-100kg) faced UKR’s Oleksandr Pominov in the quarter-final. Victory saw Chris win his Pool and progress to face hometown athlete, USA’s Benjamin Goodrich in the semi-final. In a closely contested match, Chris silenced the home crowd by defeating their medal hope to progress to the final where he was met by the current World and Paralympic Champion, and the man Chris recently dethroned at the top of the world rankings, Georgia’s Zviad Gogotchuri. The Georgian used his years of experience and clearly fired up after losing his world number 1 title, was on the attack from the first second. Bandaged and tired from the previous lengthy match, Chris was unable to match is opponent and had to concede the gold and settle for silver.
Jack Hodgson (+100kg) entering the competition as the top ranked athlete, also had a bye in the opening round and faced Jamaica’s Theador Subba in the quarter-final. Jack defeated his Jamaican opponent to win his Pool and set up a semi-final against GEO’s Revaz Chikoidze. Unfortunately for Jack, despite nearly throwing his opponent on a number of occasions the Georgian remained glued to his spot and he was able to find a winning score, meaning Jack was relegated to the bronze medal fight where he faced GRE’s Theoklitos Papachristos, leaving Chikoidze to go on to claim the gold. Jack defeated his Greek opponent to win the bronze medal.
Elliot Stewart (-90kg) defeated THA’s Kittikai Chaisin in the first round to set up a quarter-final match against China’s Yanchen Li. Elliot swiftly dispatched of his Chinese opponent to win Pool D and progress to the semi-final to face world number 3, Helios Latchoumanaya of France. Unfortunately, the more experienced French athlete defeated Elliot and he moved to the bronze medal fight to face GER’s Daniel Goral. It did not take Elliot long to dispatch of the German, a little over 90seconds in fact, to win bronze.
Daniel Powell (-81kg) faced hometown athlete, USA’s Adnan Gutic in the opening round. Victory against the American saw Dan progress to face KOR’s world number 3, and the highest ranked athlete at the Qualifier, Jung Min Lee in the quarter-final. Ranked 32nd in the world, it was always going to be a tough match for Dan and the Korean’s experience showed. Dan was progressed to the Repechage where he faced ESP’s Abel Vazquez Cortijo, an athlete ranked slightly higher than Dan in 29th. Despite this Dan defeated his opponent to move onto face world number 20 Dmytro Solovey in the bronze medal match. In the fight Dan was largely the more dominant of the two judoka’s but was unfortunately thrown for ippon and missed out on a medal, finishing 5th, but this performance will see Dan climb up the world rankings.
Evan Molloy in his first outing at the -81kg category, found himself drawn in a tough Pool, given he is unranked at this weight category. Despite this he defeated GEO’s Tarieli Udzilauri in the 1st round to set up a quarter-final match against MEX’s world number 10, Eduardo Adrian Avila Sanchez. The Mexican, who later went onto claim gold, was too strong for Evan who has only recently stepped up in weight from the -73kg category. In the Repechage, Evan faced world number 8 Nathan Petit. Evan again gave a great account of himself against a world class opponent but was unfortunately defeated by Petit, who later went on to win bronze, meaning Evan finished in 7th.
Natalie Greenhough (-70kg) had a bye in her opening round and faced KOR’s world number 5, Gaeun Lee in the quarter-final. Unfortunately, the Korean was too strong for Natalie and she was defeated. Natalie moved to the Repechage where she faced GRE’s Theodora Paschalidou. In a closely contested match that went to Golden Score there was nothing to separate the athletes until the Greek judoka was able to find a winning score to progress to the bronze medal match. The result saw Natalie finish in 7th place.
Connah Anders (-66kg) faced ESP’s world number 12, Luis Daniel Gavilan Lorenzo, in the 1st round. Connah gave a great account of himself but was thrown for two wazari’s by the Spaniard who later went on to finish 5th.
Coming up for the British Judo VI Team is the European Championships in Genova, Italy from 26th – 28th July.
The British Open Adaptive and Visually Impaired Judo Championships 2019 is being held on Saturday 17th August at the Sport Wales National Centre in Cardiff. For more information, or to enter click here.