Judo: Gemma Gibbons wins first British judo medal since 2000 with silver

 

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The Independent Online

Gemma Gibbons delivered Britain's first Olympic judo medal in 12 years with a silver after she was beaten by American Kayla Harrison in the women's under-78kgs final at ExCeL.

Gibbons, who spent six months out of the sport after needing surgery on her shoulder, had lit up North Arena 2 as she battled to through to semi-finals and then disposed of world champion Audrey Tcheumeo with an ippon throw in golden score.

However, the gold proved just out of reach for the 25-year-old as the fourth-seeded American claimed a narrow 2-0 victory, for the United States' first ever judo Olympic title.

Coached by Kate Howey, who was the last British judo fighter to win Olympic silver at the Sydney Games, Gibbons opened up well, but was caught by an early Yuko score.

With Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian leader Vladimir Putin - a judo black bet - watching from the stands, the Briton went back on the offensive.

Gibbons - who had looked to the Heavens and mouthed "I love you mum" after her semi-final win, in memory of Jeanette who passed away from leukaemia in 2004 - showed few signs of fatigue from her gruelling encounters so far.

The British judoka gripped well, but her opponent also showed good defensive skills to evade 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 Cameron before heading off for the medal ceremony.

Tcheumeo, meanwhile, picked herself up to win the bronze-medal fight against Abigel Joo of Hungary.

Top-seeded Brazilian Mayra Aguiar also made the podium when she beat Dutchwoman Marhinde Verkerk on an ippon score.

In the men's under-100kgs, Tagir Khaibulaev of Russia defeated Mongolian Tuvshinbayar Naidan to claim gold.

The bronze medals went to Henk Grol, the number two seed, of Holland, delighting the massed ranked of Oranje in the stands who had been hoping for gold.

Defeated semi-finalist German Dimitri Peters, who knocked Grol out in the last eight, also won bronze.

PA

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