Ashley McKenzie was already looking to bigger and better things after recording the best result of his career with bronze on the opening day of the European Judo Championships.
McKenzie, who is one of three of the 16 British judokas in Budapest to have competed at the London 2012 Olympics, beat the experienced Ludwig Paischer in the -60kg bronze-medal match.
After a first-round bye, McKenzie fought back from being a waza-ari down to defeat Estonia’s Elnur Alijev by ippon before comprehensively seeing off Artiom Arshansky of Israel.
The 23-year-old met last year’s European bronze medallist Amiran Papinashvili in the semi-final but lost by two yukos to the eventual champion as he next fought for bronze in Hungary.
McKenzie caught Paischer, an Olympic silver medallist from Beijing 2008 and a two-time world and seven-time European medallist, twice to throw him for yuko and achieve a career best result.
And McKenzie, who lost to eventual silver medallist Hiroaki Hiraoka of Japan at the London 2012 Olympics last summer, is determined to build on his result from the European Championships.
“It feels amazing to win a bronze here at the Europeans in Budapest and it also means I’m on course to make it to the [IJF] Masters at the end of May,” he said.
“A special thanks goes to Darren [Warner] who coached me in his last competition for Great Britain and also to the coaches and everybody back at Camberley Judo Club.”
Of the five other Brits in action on day one debutant Nekoda Davis reached round two in the -57kg category while Connie Ramsay lost in round one in the same event.
Sisters Kimberley and Louise Renicks both lost their first bouts in the -48kg and -52kg respectively while Graham Trinder suffered the same fate in the -60kg.
© Sportsbeat 2013