Team GB won two medals on day two of competition at the European Games in Minsk, Belarus as they celebrated a gold in archery courtesy of Sarah Bettles, Naomi Folkard and Bryony Pitman and a bronze in judo for Chelsie Giles.
Team GB’s women’s recurve won the first gold of the Games as they defeated home favourites Belarus 6-2 in the team event. A confident display from the trio never allowed the Belarusian archers to gain a foothold and they ran out deserved winners.
Speaking after the event, four-time Olympian Folkard, said: “It’s really cool. Like the Olympics it comes round only every four years, so it’s a really special medal to win.”
“We’re elated. After so much hard work coming into the Games, it’s so good that it’s paid off,” added Sarah Bettles. Finally, Bryony Pitman said: “We’re chuffed. We love competing together and pushing each other on, whilst also putting good pressure on yourself to make sure you don’t let your teammates down and we really played well today.” Chelsie Giles got the first day of the European Games judo - which doubles up as the European Championships - off to a flying start for Team GB winning the bronze in the women’s -52kg weight category.
After a solid win against Joana Ramos from Portugal in round one of 32, Giles navigated a tricky fight with tough French fighter Astride Gneto to proceed to the quarter-finals. While she lost that fight against the impressive Amandine Buchard from France, she beat Poland’s Karolina Pienkowska in repechage to give her the chance to fight for bronze against Polish fighter Agata Perenc. She won the fight in style with an outstanding throw to earn the ippon and the bronze medal.
Reflecting on the win, Giles said: “Training has been great and today has just shown what I can do against the top players. Every fight was a challenge and I had to reset and come back out ready for the next fight.
"Even though I was coming back from a loss I felt through all of the fights I fought well, so I didn’t have to build myself back up – I was happy with my performances. This is a massive step to qualifying for the Olympics.”
On the throw that won the fight, Giles said: “I don’t know how to explain it. When you’re in the moment you don’t think about it and that’s when the best throws happen. I think that’s what it was. I was so in the fight and I was so in control of what I was doing it was natural to me.”
However, there was some disappointment on the archery range and in the judo hall for Team GB. It was not to be for the men’s recurve team who bowed out at the quarter-final stage losing to Italy (5-1). In the compound Lucy Mason put in a valiant display but eventually went out after a sudden death loss to Turkish archer Yesim Bostan. In the men’s -60kg weight category, after a first round bye, Ashley McKenzie was up against a good fighter in Frenchman Luka Mkheidze. The fight went to the wire with both players trading shidos (penalties), until McKenzie conceded a third in golden score and the fight with it.
Elsewhere Alice Barnes narrowly missed out on a medal in the women’s cycling road race with a close fourth place finish. An early attack from three riders was a dangerous start to the race but the chasing peloton, containing all five Team GB riders, managed to close the gap.
Barnes said: “It was a good race. There was a small move off the front and the gap got to about three minutes which could’ve potentially been dangerous but it was maintained at that. I’m happy but disappointed with fourth place, its bitter sweet. I think we worked well as a team and this is one of two or three times that we’ll ride together this year. We’ve got some positives we can take away and obviously things we can work on.”
The four other Team GB riders were Anna Henderson (16th), Nicola Juniper (51st), Hayley Simmonds (60th) and Rhona Callander (61st). Barnes and Simmonds will be in action again in Tuesday’s time trial with the men’s road race getting underway tomorrow.
Sam Walker progressed through to round three of the men’s singles table tennis, following a 4-3 victory over home favourite Pavel Platonov of Belarus. Walker was trailing 3-2 going into the sixth set, but found some late momentum after a time out to turn the contest on its head and book his place in the next round.
Tin-Tin Ho and Charlotte Carey both fell in round two of the women’s singles table tennis, both suffering 4-0 defeats to Xiaoxin Yang (MON) and Amelie Solja (AUT) respectively.
Team GB’s trap shooters have completed their first three rounds of qualification ahead of tomorrow’s Olympic trap final. Aaron Heading and Matt Coward-Holley sit in 12th and 19th respectively, with Heading only three points off the lead score. Kirsty Barr and Abbey Ling are only separated by one point, ranking 14th and 18th in the women’s event.
In the boxing, it was a mixed day in the last 16 bouts for Team GB with Pat McCormack (5-0) comfortably progressing to the next round of the -69kg but Mark Dickinson lost (3-2) to Irish boxer Michael Nevin in the -75kg. Ben Whitaker had to wait until late on Saturday night for his fight but he didn’t disappoint running out a comprehensive winner (5-0).
The first day of gymnastics action in the Minsk Arena saw acrobatic women’s group Erin Henderson, Sacha Muir and Chloe Rowlands compete in both the dynamic and balance events.
Up against some very experienced groups they began by placing eighth in the balance final scoring 25.860. They followed up with a very entertaining James Bond themed routine in the dynamic final to finish in fifth place with a score of 27.680 points. The group complete their European Games campaign with the combined event on Sunday.
Team GB action tomorrow: