University of Bath graduate Gemma wins Olympic judo silver

02 August 2012

University of Bath Sports Performance graduate Gemma Gibbons today (Thursday) won Britain’s first Olympic judo medal for 12 years when she collected silver in the women’s under-78kg class at the London 2012 Games.

Gemma, who graduated from the University in 2009, made sure of a medal by beating France’s reigning World Champion Audrey Tcheumeo with an Ippon golden score in the semi-finals.

That set up a final against Kayla Harrison of the USA, who had already disposed of Brazil’s top seed Mayra Aguiar in her semi.

Gemma (pictured right) put up a brave fight, but was just edged out by the American by two scores to nil.

Juergen Klinger, head judo coach at the University of Bath, coached Gemma between 2006 and 2009 when she combined studying for a Sports Performance degree at the University with training.

He said he was delighted to see her win silver today. “I’m really happy for her because she is such a great person, a very talented girl and hard worker.  She produced some fantastic performances today and winning a silver medal at an Olympic Games is a phenomenal performance.

“Gemma has always had a very competitive attitude. She is always attacking, she sticks to her opponent, she’s always there and she doesn’t stop working.”

Gemma moved from Bath after graduating in 2009. Britain’s last Olympic judo medallist, Kate Howey, won silver at the Sydney 2000 Games when she also trained in Bath. She was coaching Gemma at the competition today.

Nicola Fairbrother, BBC sport judo pundit, said: “I think it is safe to say she deserves that silver, what a silver medal. She has earned that no doubt.”

Gemma is the fourth Team GB medallist at London 2012 to have University of Bath links. Sports Performance student Michael Jamieson won 200m breaststroke silver yesterday. Heather Stanning, a Sports Technology graduate, and Helen Glover, learned to row through the GB Rowing Team’s Start programme at the University and won gold for GB in the women’s pair yesterday.

Also today the GB beach volleyball pair of Zara Dampney and Shauna Mullin just lost final pool match, going down to Russian pairing of Ekaterina Khomyakova and Evgeniya Ukolova. The Russians edged them out of a nervy first set 25-23 before taking the second 21-13, leaving them third in pool F. The GB team’s UK training base is at the University of Bath.

In fencing, the British women’s foil team, including University of Bath Mathematics and Computing graduate Natalia Sheppard (left), finished eighth overall.  Natalia won all three of her contests as Team GB beat Egypt in the opening round. GB then went down to Italy in the quarter-final and to Poland in the 5-8 classification round to set up a play-off for seventh place against Japan.  The Japanese took the spoils 30-21.

The British women’s eight, which featured former University of Bath-based rower Victoria Thornley, finished out of the medals in fifth in their final this morning.

Tomorrow (Friday) sees the first London 2012 appearance of 400m hurdles world champion Dai Greene. Dai and training partner Jack Green, both go in the heats. The pair are both coached at the University of Bath by Malcolm Arnold, UK Athletics National Events Coach Hurdles

Bath swimmers could also be back in action in the pool in the medley relays – the heats take place tomorrow (Friday) and the finals on Saturday.

For our full schedule and results, see our Olympic and Paralympic pages at

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