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Other Sports - 27. April 2012.

Fifth-place for Sarah Clark at European Championships

Beijing Olympian Sarah Clark, a three-time European medallist, finished in
fifth-place on the opening day of the 2012 European Championships in
Chelyabinsk, Russia.

The action on day one came from the -48kg, 52kg, -57kg, -60kg and -66kg
categories as eight British judoka competed in the final Olympic
qualification event.

In the -48kg category, Hayley Willis, 16, become the youngest ever Briton
to fight at the European Championships and received a bye in the opening
round.

Her first ever contest on the elite senior stage came against Portugal’s
Ana Hormigo, the 2008 European bronze medallist.

Hayley produced a herculean effort against her standout opponent who was 15
years her senior and showed a maturity beyond her tender eyes as two
waza-ari scores sealed Hormigo’s passage into the quarter-final.

In the same category Kimberley Renicks’s hopes were ended by Russian
Liudmila Bogdanova, the two-time u23 European champion.

In the -52kg competition Sophie Cox, the 2011 European bronze medallist,
narrowly losing out by a yuko to the 2011 European silver medallist Joana
Ramos.

In the -57kg category Sarah Clark showcased her European pedigree - having
won the competition in 2006 and claimed a silver and bronze medal since –
confidently dispatching Serbian Jovana Rogic, a six-time national champion
in her opening bout by ippon.

2011 European champion Sabrina Filzmoser of Austria was next in line and
South Shields judoka Clark produced another win by ippon to impose herself
in the category.

In the quarter-final reigning u20 and u23 European champion Tugba Zehir of
Turkey suffered a knee injury and had to forfeit the contest which saw
Clark advance to face Greek judoka Ioulietta Boukouvala, the 2010 world
bronze medallist, in the semi-final.

Despite registering three yuko scores Britain’s -57kg hope lost out by a
waza-ari to enter the repechage to fight for the bronze medal.

Miryam Roper sealed the final place on the -57kg medal rostrum by ippon as
Clark finished a credible fifth-place.

In the same category Connie Ramsey produced a spirited effort against 2010
European champion Corina Oana Caprioru of Romania. Ramsey, who pushed the
pace and threatened throughout the contest, fell behind to a deciding
waza-ari score with 20 seconds left in the bout.

Lead Olympic women’s coach Kate Howey said: “Sarah had a really good day
with wins against Filzmoser as well as decorated Turkish and Serbian
opposition.

"The semi-final was very close and Sarah was unlucky to lose throwing the
Greek judoka three times but only registering yuko scores. All in all this
was Sarah back to her best and this performance has so many positives to
help her in the coming months.”

British Judo Performance Director Daniel Lascau said: “Sarah fought well,
she fought confidently and attacked from the start and there’s positives to
take from her performance.

"Hayley Willis had no fear at all, there’s a mix of young and old judoka in
the -48kg category so she has a very good chance to go forward and have a
long successful career.

"Kimberley lost early in her contest and we need to be scoring first, this
is something we’ve been working on in randori. A contest can last seconds
or minutes, this is judo and what we need to be ready for.

"Sophie Cox was disappointed with her performance, she only lost by a yuko,
and will return to action at the British Open to produce a strong
performance.

"Connie Ramsey received a shido at the half-way point but I’d prefer our
judoka to go out and attack as she did and there was nothing between her
and her opponent until the final 20 seconds.

"The first day was a good experience and we will build on this with six
judoka fighting on Friday.”

On Friday the attention turns to the -63kg, -70kg, -73kg and -81kg
categories as six Brtish judoka take to the tatami.

Faith Pitman and Cadets European Champion Katie-Jemima Yeats-Brown, 16,
compete at -63kg while Danny Williams battles in the -73kg field.

Sally Conway and Gemma Gibbons see action at -70kg with Euan Burton
fighting in the -81kg category.
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