It has taken until September for Lucy Renshall to take the mat for a 2017 Grand Prix but, with a bronze medal to her name, there is no doubt it was worth the wait.
Gold may have evaded the judoka in Zagreb, but that didn’t mean success was not to come the way of a competitor who has battled more with injury than she has with opponents this season.
A trip to Croatia marked just her third tournament back, with this her first Grand Prix medal since Qingdao back in November 2016 and followed Nekoda Davis’ silver just a day previous.
Given the wait to return it was understandable that a quick start was to be on Renshall’s mind, taking just a minute to score a waza-ari in the bronze-medal contest against Lea Reimann.
Despite numerous attacks from the German, that initial score was enough for Renshall to take her place on the podium – an emotional way to end her return to the mat.
The bronze medal rounded off what was a clinical day for the 21-year-old, securing an ippon victory over Croatia’s Ana Kokeza as she forced her opponent to submit following a nicely executed arm lock in her opening -63kg bout of the day.
The quarter-final against Venezuela’s Anriquelis Barrios was a rather more difficult affair however, Renshall requiring a golden score, though a semi-final defeat to Japan’s Megumi Tsugane was to follow.
She was not the only competitor making a Grand Prix return either, with Stuart McWatt holding his head up high to register a seventh-place finish in the -81kg category.
He too had come back from injury, following up his return to the Junior European Championships scene just last month.
But a challenge against the World No.5 Hungarian Attila Ungvari in the quarter-final proved a step too far, condemning McWatt to the repechage.
A seventh-place finish also came Amy Livesey’s way, missing out to Japan’s Megumi Tsugane having received a bye to the last eight and both Aaron Turner and Owen Livesey lost in the first round.
Picture: British Judo