Silver medal is ‘best yet’ for Team Bath judoka Gemma Howell at Tbilisi Grand Prix

28 March 2016

University of Bath student Gemma Howell won her first Grand Prix judo medal for two years after producing a string of excellent performances in Georgia.

The Sport & Exercise Science student, competing in the -63kg weight division, beat judoka ranked 30, 20, eight and nine in the world on her way to a superb silver in the Tbilisi Grand Prix.

“I’m really happy, this silver is the best senior medal I’ve won so far,” Howell told British Judo.

“I am happy with the way I won some of the fights especially the strangleholds as I don’t usually win my contests that way. I’m going to carry this momentum forward with me now into the Samsun Grand Prix in Turkey next weekend.”

London 2012 Olympian Howell, coached by Juergen Klinger at the Sports Training Village, came through tight matches against Busra Katipoglu of Turkey and Sweden’s Mia Hermansson – the latter thanks to a decisive waza-ari with just eight seconds left on the clock.

She then recorded her first-ever victory over Anicka Van Emden of the Netherlands, number eight in the world, by ippon to progress from Pool C.

A second ippon of the day saw Howell (pictured above, left) overcome Italy’s Edwige Gwend – another top-ten player – in the semi-final to set up a title showdown with Katrin Unterwurzacher.

The Austrian was the number one seed but Howell took an early lead with a yuko, only for her opponent to respond in kind before scoring an ippon with just a minute to go.

Ben Fletcher kept up his push for Rio 2016 Olympic Games qualification with a seventh-placed finish in the men’s -100kg competition.

He defeated Estonia’s Grigori Minaskin and came from behind to beat Michael Korrel of the Netherlands before losing to Sweden’s Martin Pacek, the world number seven, in the third round and Portugal’s Jorge Fonseca in the repechage.

Tom Reed produced some impressive judo in the -81kg division to record victory by ippon over both Rustam Alimli of Azerbaijan and Moldova’s Nicon Zaborosciuc.

However, the Business Administration graduate’s fine run came to a frustrating end when he was edged out 2-1 on penalties by world number ten Alan Khubetsov.

Orthopaedic Biomechanics PhD student Jan Gosiewski and Emmanuel Nartey suffered narrow first-round defeats in the -73kg competition, to Belgium’s Dirk Van Tichelt and eventual bronze-medallist Lasha Shavdatuashvili of Georgia respectively.

Gregg Varey was also in action in the -66kg category, losing out to a strong opponent in Belgium’s Jasper Lefevere in the first round.

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