20-year-old Gemma Howell from Telford has finished in 7th place in on day three of the 2010 World Championships, held in Tokyo, Japan.
The rising youngster made a recent come-back after a ten month injury lay-off and was selected for the Championships as Britain’s no.1 -57kg fighter.
Making her debut on the World stage, Howell overcame some of the World’s top players, including an impressive show against Japan’s no.2.
An impressive feat from the World ranked no.93 who has only just made the transition from junior level to senior level.
After competing, Howell said, “I am a bit gutted that I finished 7th, but now I have the experience and will know what to expect next time.
“I performed better than I did at the Moscow Grand Slam earlier this year and with 2012 coming up, I know what I need to do to get to the level I want to be at.”
After a bye in the first round, Howell beat Jin-Sun Kim of South Korea.
In the third round, under the close eye of the crowd, the Brit knocked out Japan’s no.2 Nae Udaka.
The Japanese judoka’s profile boasts a bronze medal at the prestigious 2010 Paris Grand Slam and a silver medal at the 2010 IJF Masters, but this was no match for Howell’s power and determination as she won the fight with a waza-ari after the time had run out on the clock.
“After the fight Howell said, “I had fought her last year at a training camp in Japan.
“When I was fighting, I thought I could hear the crowd shouting, but I had blocked it out. It wasn’t until I got off the mat and asked someone that I realised they had been cheering all the way trough.”
Progressing to the quarter final, Howell faced the World no.3 Sabrina Filzmoser of Austria.
The Austrian had won her three previous fights by ippon, and managed to strike again, this time against the Brit and earned herself a place in the semi-final.
Howell was left to fight it out through the repechage for a bronze medal, firstly against Loulietta Boukouvala of Greece.
Again, another player from the top 20 in the World, Howell came onto the mat with every chance to make it to the bronze medal final.
After receiving a penalty warning, the Grecian stepped up a gear and threw Howell for ippon, placing the Brit in a respectable 7th place.
This personal best adds to Howell’s promising senior career, after winning gold medals at Britain, Orenburg and Slovenia’s European Cups this year.
Commenting on the Championships, Howell said, “It has been such a good experience, the World Championships are different in themselves and especially now there could be up to two players from each country.
“It was tough. Everybody has noticed the quality in their weight categories with all of the top players in the World fighting. But this is what it is going to be like from now on at the World Championships, so it is an eye-opener as to where I want to be.
“The arena looks amazing and it is packed with Japanese supporters, the atmosphere is brilliant,” Howell added.
The British star trains full-time at the British Judo Performance Institute in Dartford and works closely with Britain’s first World Champion Jane Bridge, now Lead Women’s Coach, and Head Coach Patrick Roux.