Chelsie Giles took a first step towards Tokyo 2020 qualification as she sealed a maiden Judo Grand Slam medal, claiming a brilliant bronze in the -52kg in Abu Dhabi.
Giles had fallen to Rio Olympic champion Majlinda Kelmendi in the semi-final but prevailed in the bronze-medal match against Israel’s Gefen Primo.
The result caps what has been an outstanding year for the 21-year-old; she took bronze at the Budapest Grand Prix in August and silver in Antalya back in April, earning her a call-up for her maiden World Championships last month.
“I think I fought well today and I was on point with my fight plans,” she said after defeating Primo.
“I was really pleased with the contest against Kelmendi as I only lost on shirts and in Golden Score.
“I am happy that I have 500 points towards Olympic qualification and won my first Grand Slam medal.”
The only GB fighter in action on day one of the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, Giles ensured that the six-person squad got things off to the perfect start.
She faced Hong Kong’s Shuk Ki Tsui in her opening contest, starting cautiously but growing into the contest before registering ippon to seal safe passage to the quarter-finals.
There she defeated Switzerland’s world number 12-ranked Evelyne Tschopp, who had beaten her back in Budapest, before Kosovan Kelmendi proved a step too far for Giles.
An assured performance from the three-time European champion left Giles to fight for bronze against Primo.
It was a close-run contest, with Giles doing most of the attacking; and she got her reward with a waza-ari in the closing seconds of the contest to seal a dramatic victory.
Her coach, Kate Howey said: “Chelsie fought well today and was very composed in each fight.
“She gave the Olympic Champion a very good fight and she will use this as a marker going forward.
This is Chelsie’s first Grand Slam medal and she is picking medals up at the right time as they are all going towards Olympic qualification.