Powell wins statement silver in Abu Dhabi

Powell wins statement silver in Abu Dhabi

29 October 2018 / 17:01

Natalie Powell admitted her Judo Grand Slam silver medal in Abu Dhabi was made all the sweeter considering the difficulties she has endured in competitive action over recent months. 

The 2014 Commonwealth champion had suffered early-round defeats in the World Judo Championships and the Cancun Grand Prix but advanced all the way to the final of the -78kg competition in Abu Dhabi, where she was eventually defeated by Guusje Steenhuis. 

The result secures a fifth Grand Slam career medal and – more importantly - 700 points towards qualification for Tokyo 2020.

And Powell is now confident that she's back on the right track. 

“I am pleased with my performance,” she said.  

“I was able to correct a few points from the last few competitions and bring it all together to get back on the podium.

“As always, I’ve come away with lots to work on, and am looking forward to the next few months preparing for the Masters.”

The 28-year-old – who won gold in Abu Dhabi last year – started with a victory over Beata Pacut, avenging Powell’s defeat to the Pole in Cancun earlier this year.

She was rewarded with a semi-final against Karen Stevenson, throwing the Dutch judoka for ippon to seal a place in the final.

There she met world number one Guusje Steenhuis in what was a tight affair, with Powell keeping her hopes of gold alive deep into the contest.

But after Steenhuis had thrown the Brit for waza-ari, Powell could not claw back the points she needed, and had to settle for silver.

“Natalie’s performance was much better than Cancun as she has corrected some minor points from that competition,” said head coach Kate Howey.

“It is good for Natalie’s confidence to gain ranking points to help towards qualifying for the Olympics in Tokyo.”

Elsewhere, Max Stewart lost out in his third-round match against Aleksandar Kukolj in the -90kg event.

He had earlier defeated Faruch Bulekulov, but could not get past world number two Kukolj, who went on to claim bronze.

Sportsbeat 2018