On the opening day of the Perth Oceania Open, Nekoda Smythe-Davis claimed silver in the -57kg category whilst Eric Ham won bronze in the -73kg category.
Unlike other Continental Open events, the Perth Oceania Open has been credited by the IJF with awarding Grand Prix points to judoka, meaning a high number of fighters from across the globe have travelled ‘down-under’ in search of valuable Olympic qualification points.
Entering as the number 6 seed, Smythe-Davis overcame Mariana Esteves (GUI) in round two, following an opening round bye, before securing her place in the semi-finals with victory against Jaione Equisoain (ESP).
Smythe-Davis then defeated Seija Ballhaus (GER) in what was a repeat of her opening round contest at the European Championships last weekend – a contest which Smythe-Davis lost courtesy of three penalty shidos. This time it was Ballhaus who amassed three penalty shidos to secure Smythe-Davis passage to the final, where she would face number one seed, Mimi Huh (KOR).
With nothing between the pair, the contest entered Golden Score where Smythe-Davis was caught for a waza-ari score, meaning she had to settle for silver. The result was the Brits first medal since taking bronze at the Portugal Grand Prix at the turn of the year.
In the -73kg category, Eric Ham, who entered seeded 50th in the world rankings after returning to competition following multiple injuries, entered the competition outside of the automatic seeding places.
This didn’t stop the Brit having one of his best days on the tatami as he overcame 6th seed Gilberto Cardoso (MEX) before defeating Ksawery Morka (POL) to set up a quarter-final match against 3rd seed Jack Yonezuka (USA). An ippon score progressed Ham to the semi-finals where he was defeated by eventual gold medallist Bajsangur Bagajev (SRB).
Ham faced another seeded judoka for bronze; 4th seed, Benjamin Axus (FRA). With the contest seemingly heading for Golden Score Ham was awarded a waza-ari score as the clock hit the 4-minute mark. There was a nervous wait as the referee’s reviewed the score, but much to Ham’s delight, he was awarded the score and the victory.
Elsewhere, Luke Davies continued to impress in the senior ranks as he finished 7th in the -73kg category. The 2023 European Junior Championship bronze medallist defeated home judoka Jake Bensted (AUS) in the opening round before defeating 8th seed Rashid Mammadaliyev (AZE). Defeat to eventual silver medallist Jorge Cano-Garcia (ESP) and 4th seed Axus (FRA) saw the young Brit finish in 7th position.