Gibbons hopes to inspire youngsters

03 August 2012 / 08:04

Gemma Gibbons hopes to inspire the next generation of British judokas after delivering a first Olympic medal for 12 years with silver in the women's under-78kgs at ExCeL.

Gibbons, who battled back to make the London 2012 squad following six months out after shoulder surgery, had lit up North Arena 2 as she battled to through to semi-finals and then disposed of world champion Audrey Tcheumeo with an ippon throw in golden score.

However, the gold proved just out of reach for the 25-year-old, who was watched by Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian president Vladimir Putin, a judo black belt.

Fourth-seeded American Kayla Harrison claimed a narrow victory by two Yukos, which was the United States' first ever women's judo Olympic title.

Gibbons was coached by Kate Howey, the last British judo fighter to win Olympic silver at the Sydney Games.

"As a kid growing up, Kate was my hero. She has been a big part of my preparation for this and I hope I can inspire young children how she inspired me," said Gibbons, raised just a few miles away in Greenwich.

"Hopefully lots of people have had the chance to view judo over this Olympic period and that they want to get involved and their kids want to get involved. "It is great I was able to do this because our team have all been capable of it, but have had a pretty bad time over the past few Olympics and hopefully this proves we can do it at this level."

Howey, the GB women's Olympic coach, felt Gibbons had earned her place in British sporting history.

"She trained her heart out, she has worked hard and got a little bit bigger," said the 39-year-old.

"We did our homework on her opponents. I have taken a few punches in the face to get her there, pretending to be somebody. That is why I do it for those moments, and is why I started crying after the semi-final because I felt 'thank God, the pressure if off me'. I am no longer the last medallist, it is now down to Gemma. I am so proud of her."