Gibbons seals silver and first British Olympic judo medal after 12-year drought
Thursday, 02 August 2012
August 2 - Gemma Gibbons won Great Britain's first Olympic judo medal in 12 years with a silver after she was defeated by America's Kayla Harrison in the women's under-78kg final at the ExCeL Arena today.
Returning to the sport after six months following shoulder surgery, today's clinch was all the more poignant for Gibbons as she mouthed "I love you mum" – in memory of her mother whom she lost to leukaemia in 2004 – after defeating French world champion Audrey Tcheuméo in the semi-finals with an ippon throw in golden score.
However, the gold proved just out of reach for the 25-year-old, who is coached by Britain's Sydney 2000 Olympic silver medallist Kate Howey, as the fourth-seeded American Harrison claimed a narrow 2-0 victory, for the United States' first ever judo Olympic title.
Gibbons gripped well, but her opponent also showed good defensive skills to avoid being caught and edged further ahead with another Yuko as the contest moved into the final minute, from which she closed it out.
Nevertheless, Gibbons left the Tatami to a standing ovation, and a congratulatory handshake from British Prime Minister David Cameron before heading off for the medal ceremony.
"It does not quite feel real at the moment," she said.
"It has been difficult to get here, but it is not easy for any athlete.
"When you are training as hard as you can but not getting results in competitions, you do think, what do I have to do?
"Deep within, though, I always knew I could do something special, and that is what drives you on."