Earning their place at the top, the GB team bagged four gold, one silver and four bronze medals at the 2009 GB World Cup in Birmingham.
France and Russia followed close behind in second and third place out of a total of 25 countries that competed over the two days of competition on the 19th and 20th September.
European silver medallist Sarah Clark (-63kg, Edinburgh) and Kimberley Renicks (-48kg, Edinburgh) got the GB team’s campaign off to an excellent start as they won gold medals in their respective weight categories on day one.
Also medalling in the lighter weight contests on day one was Sophie Johnstone (-52kg, Brighton) who won bronze.
Day two 2008 GB World Cup gold medallist Sarah Adlington (Shrewsbury) returned to defend her title in the +78kg weight category. Adlington progressed to the final to face Lucia Tangorre (Italy) and won the fight, earning her the title for the second year running.
Taking the final bronze medal was Sian Wilson (-78kg, Mitcham) who was called into action at the last minute for the repechage due to a revised decision that led to Annika Heise (Germany) being disqualified.
Achieving finishing 7th place was Megan Fletcher (-70kg).
Commenting on the team’s performance, Head Coach Patrick Roux said, “The last 6 months have been a period of great change with our focus being around the structure and plan for the Olympic cycle. It has been extremely positive to see the players achieving at this competition and indicates we have a good platform to build from.
“We were able to use the GB World Cup as an enhanced training opportunity. The players were encouraged by the coaches to strive to throw for Ippon, which means taking risks and not limiting themselves. As a result we saw some good technical improvements from our players - particularly the medallists. Another target was for the players to take the responsibility of the fight- this is why you will have seen some of our elite players with no mat side coach, allowing the player to focus on the fight and make their own decisions. We will collect feedback from the players to see how this felt. Both of these opportunities were possible because we were at a home event".
“Another important factor was the continued development in the dynamics of our coaching team to produce a collective support to all of our players, therefore maximising performance”.
British Judo’s CEO, Scott McCarthy said, “The GB World Cup provided an excellent platform for us to give a large number of fighters some experience of a high quality event with a high quality field of contestants. With 25 countries in attendance we had a great mix of all world judo styles on display and our young fighters will benefit from this experience.
“As you might expect during this developmental stage of the programme, we had some fantastic individual performances and also some disappointments – but I am confident that both the Performance staff and the players will learn and benefit from it. The GB Team is now moving straight into an international camp in Dartford where we will host four of the leading delegations and continue the journey”, he further said.
It was the first time that a World Cup for both Men & Women had been held in the UK and follows on from the Women’s World Cups held in 2006 and 2008 and the Men’s World Cup held in 2007.
The event returned to Birmingham for the fourth year running and took place at the NIA, on the 19th & 20th September.
The GB World Cup forms part of the new World Ranking system, announced by the International Judo Federation (IJF), which commenced on the 1st January and contributes to 2012 Olympic qualification and each individuals World standing.
The circuit features four Grand Slams (Paris, Moscow, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo), five Grand Prix (Hamburg, Tunis, United States of America, Beijing and Abu Dhabi) and 17 World Cups, including the GB World Cup, plus the Masters to be held in Seoul this year.
The British event attracted 246 competitors from across the globe, and was staged with assistance from UK Sport Lottery funding and Birmingham City Council.
photos Janos Schmidt