Natalie Powell believes a solid block of strength training was the key to her performance after a scintillating display in Abu Dhabi saw her claim her first career Grand Slam judo gold.
The 27-year-old is also set to move to the top of the -78kg world rankings next week after defeating Dutch judoka Marhinde Verkerk in the final.
Powell, world number two ahead of the day’s action behind Brazilian Mayra Aguiar, powered her way past Israel’s Yarden Meyersohn in the opening round.
She defeated Verker’s compatriot Guusje Steenhuis, the world number three, in the semi-finals to set up a gold medal bout with Verkerk.
And with the Dutch fighter picking up three shidos for passivity after an excellent defensive display by the British judoka, Powell claimed the win and already has her eyes set on the next prize.
“I was really pleased with the result,” said Merthyr Tydfil’s Powell. “I’ve been in a heavy strength block and I felt the extra strength helped.
“I’m now looking forward to going to Japan for a few weeks of training to build on my technique and intensity before the competitions at the end of the year.”
Powell's win means Britain end the Grand Slam with three medals, after Lucy Renshall's silver in the -63kg and Nekoda Davis claiming bronze in the -57kg.
Kate Howey, GB Senior Elite Performance Coach, added: “Natalie fought really well and showed real class both mentally and physically. She has been on a heavy weights block and this showed on the mat.
“Tactically she showed real maturity in beating both Dutch girls and even scoring with ashi-waza. This win should put her as world number one on the ranking list heading into the next Grand Slam in Tokyo.
“She now has the next month in Japan preparing for it and to fine tune everything she is working on. I am really pleased for her!”
Photo: International Judo Federation
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