On day 2 of the Paris Grand Slam Gemma Howell (-70kg) claimed bronze and more vital Olympic qualification points in her bid to represent Team GB at the Tokyo Games this summer.
Howell, competing in Paris for the first time since 2011, defeated the 2017 European Youth Olympic Festival bronze medallist, Lea Adam-Sendra (AND) in the opening round before defeating Ayuk-Otay Arrey-Sophina (CMR) in round 2, both victories coming by Howell’s preferred Ne-waza.
In round three Howell faced former World Championship silver medallist, Maria Perez (PUR) and again Howell used her trusted groundwork to book her place in the quarter-final against home favourite, World Champion, Marie-Eve Gahie (FRA).
Howell left nothing on the mat in her quarter-final match against the current world number 1. Unfortunately, a single score was enough to see the French player into the semi-finals, meaning Howell was progressed to the Repechage where she faced Elisavet Teltsidou (GRE).
In the Repechage Teltsidou amassed three shidos, meaning Howell progressed to the bronze medal match to face current World Championship silver medallist Barbara Timo (POR).
In the bronze medal match, both athletes were cancelling each other out throughout and, with nothing between the two, the match entered Golden Score.
As the clock neared the 3minute 30second stage of Golden Score, Timo amassed her third penalty shidos, handing victory and the bronze medal to Howell. The bronze medal match is not one that will go down in Paris Grand Slam history, but that will not matter to Howell who takes home a bronze medal and, more importantly, has gained additional, vital, world ranking points towards Tokyo qualification.
In the battle for -70kg Olympic qualification, Sally Conway was looking to continue her early season form in Paris, after topping the podium at the Tel Aviv Grand Prix in January. The 2018 Paris Grand Slam gold medallist looked great in the early rounds, defeating Demos Memneloum (CHA) and Gabriella Willems; Willems falling prey to Conway in Ne-waza.
In the quarter-final Conway faced Yoko Ono (JPN) in what turned out to be a closely contested match. With the score level at one score each the contest entered Golden Score where Ono threw Conway for ippon.
Unfortunately, Conway was unable to compete in her Repechage match against Anna Bernholm (SWE) after sustaining a slight knock to her knee. As a precaution, following medical advice, Conway was withdrawn from the competition, meaning she finished in 7th place.
Sarah Adlington (+78kg) was defeated by the 2019 European Junior Champion, Lea Fontaine (FRA) in the second round after an opening round bye.