The hard work and toil was worth it for Nekoda Davis as she ended Great Britain’s medal drought at the World Judo Championships with a bronze in the -57kg category.
Not since Euan Burton’s bronze in in 2010 had a British judoka climbed the medal rostrum at the global event and the week in Budapest had got off to a slow start for the team with Kelly Edwards and Ashley McKenzie both losing in the first round.
But Davis restored the feel-good factor among the camp on Wednesday when she defeated Miryam Roper of Panama in the bronze medal contest.
After a bye in round one, she earlier beat Russia’s Irina Zabludina and world No.6 Jessica Klimkait of Canada by ippon to reach the quarter-final stage.
A narrow defeat to world No.3 Helene Receveaux of France then put her in the repechage where she beat world No.7 Chen-Ling Lien on golden score to move into the bronze medal contest.
And Davis continued to hold her nerve, going two waza-aris ahead before Roper was unable to carry on due to a neck injury picked up during the fight.
And after facing her own injury demons this year in the form of wrist surgery after the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and thumb surgery in April, the British fighter was delighted to put in such a good showing in only her second competition since Rio.
“It hasn't really sunk in yet but I'm sure it will. I just walked off and I couldn't believe it, I still can't believe it now,” she said.
"I've had two surgeries in the last year and mentally it's been really hard for me to get back on. The training's been difficult and to come back from surgery, back to full fitness, is a hard road.
"I think I've just proved to myself that even when it seems like I'm out it and I'm never going to get back to the stage, that I can and I can actually get myself on a world podium."
Photo credit: IJF, Gabriela Sabau