Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Gemma Gibbons shows her fighting spirit to grasp judo silver

Gemma Gibbons delivered Britain's first Olympic judo medal in 12 years with a silver after she was beaten by American Kayla Harrison in the women's under-78kgs final.

Gibbons, who spent six months out of the sport after needing surgery on her shoulder, had lit up North Arena 2 as she battled through to the semi-finals and then disposed of world champion Audrey Tcheumeo with an ippon throw in golden score.

However, the gold proved just out of reach for the 25-year-old as the fourth-seeded American claimed a narrow 2-0 victory, for the United States' first ever judo Olympic title.

Coached by Kate Howey, who was the last British judo fighter to win Olympic silver at the Sydney Games, Gibbons opened up well, but was caught by an early Yuko score.

With Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian leader Vladimir Putin — a judo black bet — watching from the stands, the Briton went back on the offensive.

Gibbons — who had looked to the Heavens and mouthed “I love you mum” after her semi-final win, in memory of Jeanette who passed away from leukaemia in 2004 — showed few signs of fatigue from her gruelling encounters so far.

Gibbons said: “It does not quite feel real at the moment. It has been difficult to get here, but it is not easy for any athlete. When you are training as hard as you can but not getting results in competitions, you do think what do I have to do? Deep within, though, I always knew I could do something special, and that is what drives you on.”

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