Top seed Quilter fights back from disappointment to take bronze in judo


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The Independent Online

Ben Quilter overcame a disappointing start to the day to win judo bronze for Great Britain at the ExCeL last night.

The No 1 seed in the under-60kg category was knocked out at the first hurdle by the reigning champion, Mouloud Noura of Algeria.

However, Quilter dusted himself down after the quarter-final defeat and, having come through two repêchage bouts, beat Japan's Takaaki Hirai in the bronze medal encounter.

"This morning I wanted to go home," Quilter said. "I would have happily have said 'F*** it'.

"It was such a long journey back from that. I am not used to losing and I've had the most amazing three years in the build-up to this.

"Seven weeks ago I snapped the cruciate ligament in my knee and severely ruptured the medial ligament on the inside of my knee so there were massive questions marks over whether I'd even be here. To be here and to win bronze is fantastic.

"Coming into today, I think I was kidding myself a little bit that I was still going to be able to perform to my best. It was far from my best but I had enough. I had fantastic support to get me here and I am just really pleased to have won a medal."

Like Quilter, multiple gold medallist Lee Pearson got off to a bumpy start in the team dressage. The 38-year-old – who is aiming to win 12 golds and become Britain's most successful Paralympian – admitted to an uncharacteristic mistake as he launched the challenge for a fifth successive team title.

Pearson posted the highest score in Grade Ib of the team event – 74.682 per cent on Gentleman – with his colleagues Sophie Wells, Deb Criddle and Sophie Christiansen all riding today. But it was not a vintage display by the nine-times Paralympic champion in wet and windy conditions at Greenwich Park.

Gentleman struggled for fluency in parts of the test, while Pearson, who was born with arthrogryposis and controls the horse using his hips, picked up two penalty marks for an error of course.

"It was just two circles, and I got them the wrong way around. It was rider error," he said.

"I had warned everyone about Gentleman's sense of humour. He warmed up perfectly, and then he came into the arena and realised a few thousand people were watching him. He lost all of his energy, and I had to nurse him throughout the arena. It's just in his head, really. He can be a bit cheeky sometimes when he goes in the arena."

Team medals will be decided on Sunday after scores are combined with individual competition results across all five grades and Britain are in good shape.

While veteran Pearson was disappointed with his perfomance, it was a different story for debutant Zoe Newson who won powerlifting bronze at the ExCel.

The 20-year-old from Colchester lifted 88kg to secure a podium spot in the women's under 40kg category.

Newson's bronze came on a magical day of powerlifting as Turkey's Nazmiye Muslu broke her own world record – just like Yakubu Adesokan of Nigeria did earlier in the afternoon. "It was outstanding out there," Newson said. "The crowd just pump you up.

"It was great to have a home crowd and have them behind you. It helps you get along and get stronger."

Shooter Di Coates was unable to feed off the home support though as she admitted that nerves got the better of her as her medal hopes in the R2-10 metres air rifle standing SH1 were dashed in agonising fashion.

The 58-year-old, competing in her eighth Games, missed out on a place in the final at the Royal Artillery Barracks by a one place and just two points. She finished in ninth place with 389 points, pipped to the top-eight place required to progress by a 70-year-old Australian, Elizabeth Kosmala, the oldest competitor at London 2012.

The eight-times Paralympic medallist opened with scores of 99, 98 and 98, but slipped to 94 in her fourth and final series, which proved costly. Holding back tears, she said: "My nerves got to me at the end, especially in my last two shots where I struggled.