Olympic judo silver medallist returns to competition to claim British title
Sunday, 20 January 2013
January 20 - London 2012 Olympic judo silver medallist Gemma Gibbons returned to action to be crowned British champion for the first time in her career.
The 26-year-old (pictured top, in white) won all her fights in the -78kg pool at the British Championships at the EIS Sheffield, in what was her first competition since becoming British Judo's first Olympic medallist in 12 years at last summer's Games.
And after breaking her hand at the Olympics, Gibbons came back in excellent form to defeat Laura Dangerfield in just eight seconds as she dominated the category.
However, despite this she still did not feel at the top of her game.
"I didn't feel at my best today, it was my first competition back so I wasn't at my sharpest," Gibbons said afterwards.
"It's good to be back and today was my first senior British Championships win which was very pleasing and was good preparation for returning to the international circuit."
Chris Waddell delivered a shock in the -66kg as he claimed gold ahead of London 2012 Olympian and 2011 European bronze medallist Colin Oates.
The 20-year-old Waddell threw Oates for ippon in the second minute of the contest and continued his rich vein of form in round two as he sealed a surprise gold by defeating RAF judoka Lewis Keeble.
"My target coming in was to take a medal so I'm delighted win gold," Waddell said.
"It was nerve-wracking going up against Colin but this can be the springboard for me now and 2013 can be my year."
London 2012 Paralympic silver medallist Sam Ingram, who is targeting the able-bodied competition at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, faced the country's leading fully sighted judoka in the -90kg category.
The 27-year-old reigning visually impaired European champion showed fighting spirit as he defeated Connor Murphy, Daniel Roberts, Frazer Chamberlain and David Groom to take him to the second and final rounds.
However, a waza-ari from Matthew Purssey, who was there every stop of the way with Ingram at Beijing 2008 when he won bronze, was enough to take victory from the Paralympian.
Ingram bounced back to defeat Michael Horley to claim a well-deserved bronze medal, while Purssey captured his seventh British title at a fourth different weight.
"I've realised one of my career ambitions in winning a British Championships medal, it was a good experience for me and I enjoyed being back competing," Ingram explained.
Purssey, meanwhile, said: "I'm pleased with the win, I've done a lot of work with Darcel Yandzi in the build-up and was tapering after the Kendal Winter Camp.
"A lot of stuff I've been working on come off for me and it was a lot of fun to go up against Sam and I thought it was a good match.
"For him to come away with bronze today is a fantastic achievement and it's a testament to him, Judo Scotland and the British Judo Visually Impaired programme."
Two-time Olympian and 2011 European bronze medallist Sophie Cox faced tough competition in the talent-laden -57kg field where she took on Junior Player of the Year and 2013 junior champion Nekoda Davis, who edged her out by hantei (flags) after a challenging contest.
Cox bounced back to take the title with victories over eventual silver medallist Connie Ramsey and Nicola Haywood who took bronze alongside Davis.
"I came here today because I wanted to test myself and I certainly got that," said four-time European medallist Cox.
"Every fight was a good test, I was happy with how I fought and while my performances keep up I'll keep competing and I'm targeting the big competitions this year."
The full results can be viewed here.
January 2013: Olympic medallist Gibbons to compete at 2013 British Judo Championships
October 2012: Exclusive - I still haven't come down, says Olympic silver medallist Gibbons