Gemma Gibbons makes impressive return at judo GP

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British Judo’s Olympic Silver medallist Gemma Gibbons made an impressive return to the international circuit with victory in the women’s under 78kg category at the Dusseldorf Grand Prix.

The 26 year-old from Greenwich who now lives in Edinburgh, captured the British Championship title a month ago and was making her first international appearance since the iconic Silver medal she won at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The Dusseldorf Grand Prix is one of the highest-level events on the IJF calendar, attracting the top competitors from around the world.

Gibbons’ first contest was against German competitor Julia Tillmann and despite home support, it ended with a victory for Gibbons inside three minutes.

This was followed by a much tighter contest with Annemarie Velensek of Slovenia, where the GB athlete won with a waza-ari score to her opponent’s yuko.

That victory set up a repeat of the London 2012 quarter-final contest between Gibbons and Dutch star Marhinde Verkerk. With just over 15 seconds left of the contest, Gibbons landed an ippon score to defeat the former world champion and book her place in the final.

The final saw Gibbons face Ruika Sato. This was another tough fight that almost went the distance, with Gibbons taking an early lead by waza-ari and yuko before throwing the young Japanese athlete for ippon by uchi mata 12 seconds from the end of the contest, sealing her first IJF World Tour win.

Also in action for Great Britain throughout the weekend were Ashley McKenzie, Tom Davis and Chris Sherrington. All three fought hard but suffered early defeats, eliminating them from the event.