Judo: Brits can't get to grips

Karen Bryant, the last of British judo’s not-so-magnificent seven has crashed out in her opening bout to Mexican Vanessa Zambotti, an opponent she normally would expect to have overthrown, a defeat that was sadly indicative of the way all of the British team have underachieved here. Seventh was their highest individual placing.

There will now almost certainly be a review of the sport’s future financing by funding distributors UK Sport. Since Athens, when Britain also came away empty-handed, there have been administrative shake-ups by the British Judo Association and a virtually clean sweep of coaching staff.

Two women, Margaret Hicks and Karen Roberts were put in charge of performance following the departure of the chief executive and German national coach. While Craig Fallon did win a world championship in 2005, and there have been some medal successes at European level, the Olympic return from Britain’s four men and three women has again been disastrous. Team manager Roberts, herself a former world championship bronze medallist, admitted she felt “gutted” by the overall result but added: “They all gave us 100 per cent in their preparation and the support team has been completely committed. But it is not just the disappointment of the event here but the years of work that have one into this which does not reflect the ability of the team.

”I hope our funding is not affected. Margaret Hicks (the new performance director) and I came in only a year ago very much with 2012 in mind and UK Sport has always been right behind us. They know we are looking forward to 2102 and that we need to make more changes. What we have to do now is create more depth in our system and this is not something we can do overnight.”

Britain has never won Olympic gold but there have been 16 medals overall, the last of which was Kate Howey’s silver in Sydney eight years ago.

Bryant, competing in her third Olympics, lost by two yukos and a koka to a koka, which basically is judo-speak for two falls to one. The early exit was a particularly bitter blow for the popular 29-year-old heavyweight. ”I’m very frustrated - more disappointed than anything, because I didn’t perform to my full potential,” she said. Zambotti made things very difficult, but I should have been on better form. I still feel pretty raw and I will be asking myself for a long time what went wrong.”

Perversely, she is a performer with some pedigree – a dozen medals at world and European level –and while she was not expected to win a gold there was every hope that the effort she had made over the past year to correct the disparity of her body weight by bench pressing up to 100kg a day and bulking up her diet would get some tangible reward. She is someone for whom the sport “consumes every waking hour.” “Apart from eating and sleeping judo is all I ever do."

In the past she has always seemed amazingly slim compared to many of her giant rivals and found it “mentally and physically” difficult to gain weight, often being outweighed by several stones.

“I used to look in the mirror and say’ that’s not what I want to be.’”

Now, like the rest the team, she will be taking another long hard look at herself as the funding body also re-examines its substantial commitment to a sport that hasn't got to grips with itself.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk