UNTIL last night the most famous fighter to come out of Coatbridge was the former world professional boxing champion Ricky Burns. Not any more – Lanarkshire and Scotland have two new combat stars in the Renicks sisters, Kimberley and Louise.
On a magnificent day for Scottish judo, the Renicks sisters led the way with their double gold, while Stephanie Inglis took silver and Connie Ramsay, James Millar and John Buchanan all won bronze, meaning that all of yesterday’s six judo competitors for Scotland won medals.
Inglis said: “There’s more to come, this is a very strong team. It’s absolutely fantastic but this is only the start – there’s going to be more medals in the next two days.”
Just after 6pm last night, Scotland’s first gold medal of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games was won in style by Kimberley Renicks in the judo women’s under-48kgs category.
Hall 3 of the SECC erupted when Renicks cleanly threw her opponent Shushila Likmabam of India onto her back for the ippon result that always wins a judo contest.
Just an hour later, her elder sister Louise survived a late scare to win the under-52kgs final, her English opponent Kelly Edwards coming back strongly but picking up a fourth penalty and thus being disqualified with seconds left.
“Kimberley’s win made me more focused,” said 31-year-old Louise, the elder sister by five years.
“We both know the sport and we both knew we could get a medal, and to get the double gold was something we knew we could do, so to come here and do it makes us really proud.”
Kimberley Renicks said: “I feel absolutely brilliant. I can’t explain how good it feels. The pressure is off me now – I have started off Scotland with gold.’”
Explaining her aggressive tactics – she took the fight to each of her opponents from the start – Kimberley said: “I have never been conscious of tactics, it’s all about going with your instincts.”
Louise’s battle against the dangerous Edwards was much more tactical, however: “I knew it was going to be hard to throw the girl, I knew it would be a tactical fight, and while this can be a beautiful sport, sometimes you have to use tactics and a lot of strength.”
Asked about who has the bragging rights in Coatbridge, themselves or Ricky Burns, Kimberley said: “They’ll all be talking of the Renicks sisters now.”
Home advantage and the fans’ support was cited by both sisters as inspirational, and the crowd did indeed “gie it laldy” as they were encouraged to do by the big screens around the arena – the noise meter soared past 100 decibels on numerous occasions.
The support was hugely vocal, without being impolite, from the first bout to the last of the day, which featured Inglis in the final of the under-57kgs where she was beaten by British No 1 Nekoda Davis of England. “I’m disappointed not to finish on a high,” said Inglis, “with the rest of the team winning their medal fights. But she is a tough opponent and it was a tactical fight and her tactics were better than mine – silver is not bad, though.
“I definitely knew a medal was in my grasp and the colour would be determined by how I fought. It was always in my head to get to the final and then go for the gold medal. There will be other games.”
The success last night followed a superb morning session. Kimberley Renicks became the first Scottish judoka to ensure a gold or silver medal with two powerhouse performances after taking a stranglehold, quite literally, on the competition.
Using Shime-waza, or strangulation technique, in her first contest, Renicks defeated Marcelle Monabang of Cameroon who actually became unconscious before the referee awarded the winning score of ippon to the Scot.
Monabang recovered and indeed won her repechage to make it to the bronze medal contest in which she lost to Chloe Rayner of Australia.
In her semi-final, Renicks was already ahead before she pounced on Onoh-Obasi Okey of Barbados. Again she applied the stranglehold and ippon was awarded. Okey lost to another Australian, Amy Meyer, in the contest for the bronze medal.
Louise emulated her sister’s feat by winning her semi-final in the under-52kgs category, beating Kalpana Thoudam of India.
Other excellent Scottish performances brought bronze. Millar lost out in the semi-final in the under-66kgs category to Colin Oates of England, who went on to lift gold. Millar then won the bronze medal – there are two in each category in judo – by beating Siyabulela Mabula of South Africa. Millar promptly announced his retirement.
He wasn’t the only Scot to quit competition. After beating Pascal Laurent of Mauritius, Buchanan was beaten by England’s Ashley McKenzie – who later won the gold medal – in the quarter-final of the under-60kgs category, but performed brilliantly in the repechage against Dominic Agudoo of Ghana to gain a place in the bronze medal play-off, in which he defeated Daniel le Grange of South Africa.
Buchanan had come out of retirement to compete in Glasgow, and had the pleasure of winning his medal in front of wife Clare and children.
“I am retiring now,” quipped Buchanan, “or I’d have to get divorced.”
Ramsay surprisingly lost to Canada’s Jessica Klimkait in her opening under- 57kgs contest, but came back strongly to beat Kirsty Powell of Wales by submission in the repechage. Ramsay, too, won her bronze-medal match, against Paulie Sitcheping of Cameroon.
“I am just buzzing inside,” said Ramsay, 26, who started judo aged four. “We have a very strong team and I knew we would bring in a whole load of medals.”
Scotland’s tally of six medals at the end of the first day is everything Judo Scotland and Team Scotland could have wanted.
Hall 3 at the SECC is undoubtedly going to see more Scottish medals, and the only question is how many will be gold, silver or bronze.