Bryant closes in on judo medal

03 August 2012 / 12:58

Veteran heavyweight Karina Bryant put herself within one win of landing Britain's second Olympic judo medal in 24 hours after fighting through to the semi-finals of the women's over-78kg at ExCeL.

Silver for Gemma Gibbons on Thursday finally ended the Martial Art's 12-year quest for Olympic success. North Arena 2 was again in full voice to spur on Bryant, the five-time world silver medallist and former European champion in what is likely to be her final Games.

The 32-year-old put out Sonia Asselah of Algeria in her first contest to make the last 16, where she edged past third-seeded Slovenian Lucija Polavder, the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, before coming from behind to dispatch Kazakhstan's Gulzhan Issanova, who had just beaten fancied Korean heavyweight Kim Na-Young on judges' flags.

Japan number two seed Mika Sugimoto awaits on Friday afternoon, where victory would guarantee a silver medal - and shot at gold. The other semi-final sees defending Olympic champion Wen Tong of China take on Cuba's Idalys Ortiz.

The Briton had walked out to another electric reception for the final fight of the morning session against Issanova. However, Bryant again picked up a penalty, as then did her opponent for kicking out rather than trying to sweep the leg.

With just under a minute left, Bryant fell behind after being punished again for perceived negative play. Bryant, though, dug deep and pulled out a Waza-ari score to book her place in the semi-finals.

There was, though, disappointment for Royal Marine Chris Sherrington, who went out to Russia Alexander Mikhaylin, the current European Champion and three-time world gold medallist, to a sudden-death score.

Sherrington, 28, was determined to cause an upset. "As a Royal Marine in the Royal Navy, it has to be a win for me to be totally happy, nearly is not good enough," he said.

"I fought well and he just got me in the end, but he is a two-time world judo champion, and it was not an ippon which beat me, so maybe next time he will get what is coming."

There was plenty of support for the Briton. "I was totally focused during the fight, but as I walked off, there was three Royal Marines screaming, 'yes!' and I was like 'all right lads, fancy seeing you here'," he said.