Nekoda Smythe-Davis led the way for GB Judo as she won silver at the 2018 World Judo Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan. She claimed the only GB medal whilst there was disappointment for hopefuls Natalie Powell, Ashley McKenzie and Sally Conway.
Silver medalist Smythe-Davis achieved unquestionably the biggest medal of her career, the London based athlete went one better than her bronze medal from last year’s World Judo Championships in Budapest.
The British judoka was in fine form to dispatch Slovenian judoka Kaja Kajze, Chen-Ling Lien and the in form Theresa Stoll from Germany.
Defending World Champion Sumiya Dorjsuren stood in her way in the semi-final and it was a tight affair for all involved. The contest went into golden score, which was back and forth with both judoka enjoying periods of dominance.
With just over two minutes gone the British fighter spotted an opportunity and transitioned into newaza and started to apply shime-waza, eventually resulting in the ippon win, and a place in the World Championship final.
By making the final, Smythe-Davis ensured she’d be the first British finalist at the World Judo Championships since Karina Bryant in 2009.
2017 World silver medallist Tsukasa Yoshida was the opponent in the gold medal match up.
The British judoka was not able to get into the fight and was caught twice for waza-ari in quick succession. By reaching the final with a series of impressive performances, Smyth-Davis has confirmed her place among the elite in the sport.
Speaking after picking up her medal, Smythe-Davis said:
“I knew that if I performed well today that I was definitely within a chance of winning a medal again like last year and I’m just so glad that everything just came together on the day.
“I even felt like my wins were more convincing this year than they were last year so for me it’s just like I’m stamping my authority down that I am here till the Tokyo Olympics and I’m looking to take a medal.”
After taking a bronze medal last year, Natalie Powell was unable to replicate her success as she went out in the third round to Klara Apotekar (SLO).
Olympic medalist Sally Conway continued her fine form to make her way to the quarter final stage, before losing out in a close contest to French Judoka Marie Eve Gahie.
Tokyo 2020 hopeful Ashley McKenzie had also been in good form but made a third round exit to North Korea’s Yong Gwon Kim. McKenzie had been among the top seeds and was expected to challenge for a medal.
In the team event, GB Judo were unlucky to exit in the second round, losing out 4-2 to an extremely strong Russian team.
Chelsie Giles - Second round
Amy Livesey - Second round
Alice Schlesinger - Second round
Stuart McWatt - First round
Gemma Howell - Second round
Max Stewart - Third round
Jemima Yeats Brown - Fifth Place
Sarah Adlington - Fifth Place
Image source - International Judo Federation