Nekoda Smythe-Davis made a winning return to competition as she topped the podium on the opening day of the Riccione European Open on Saturday. Two-time World Championship medallist Smythe-Davis was competing in her familiar weight category, -57kg, after a fifth-place finish at the Oberwart European Open in the -63kg category last weekend.
Smythe-Davis defeated Tea Patri (ITA) in the opening round before victories against Faiza Mokdar (FRA) and Hasret Bozkurt (TUR) to win her Pool and progress to the Semi-Finals. Smythe-Davis then overcame Lou Lemire (FRA) and Tihea Topolovec (CRO) to claim gold.
Speaking after the competition, Smythe-Davis said: “It hasn’t really sunk in yet, it has just been such a long journey back. A year since having my baby girl and I wasn’t sure if I would make it back and fighting in -57kg. It has been a case of trusting the process and taking baby steps to get back, I don’t feel like I’m a special case, I’m just a hard worker.”
There was more medal success for GB Judo on day two when Kelly Petersen-Pollard claimed bronze in the -70kg category. Competing for the first time since claiming Commonwealth Games bronze, Petersen-Pollard defeated Shaked Amihai (ISR) and Alina Lengweiler (SUI), following an opening round bye, to win her Pool and progress to the Semi-Finals. Defeat to eventual silver medallist Mina-Agneta Ricken (GER) progressed Petersen-Pollard to the bronze medal contest where she defeated Kaila Issoufi (FRA).