Silver medal for judoka Gemma

02 August 2012 / 17:54

Team GB judoka Gemma Gibbons said she had felt ready for "something special" as she grappled her way to Olympic silver.

The 25-year-old paid tribute to her late mother on her way to the final of the women's under-78kgs at ExCeL Arena, London. She lost to the United States' Kayla Harrison but her medal win - Britain's first in judo since 2000 - was seen as a remarkable achievement.

It was her mother, Jeanette, who introduced her to the sport when she was six. Her mother died in 2004 from leukaemia, but has continued to serve as an inspiration to the athlete. Speaking after her podium appearance, Gibbons, who spent six months out of the sport after surgery on her shoulder, said: "It does not quite feel real at the moment."

She added: "It has been difficult to get here, but it is not easy for any athlete. When you are training as hard as you can but not getting results in competitions, you do think, what do I have to do? Deep within, though, I always knew I could do something special, and that is what drives you on."

As she won her quarter-final earlier, Gibbons said: "I love you mum." And she wept with joy and mouthed the word "mum" as she went through to the final.

Now based in Greenwich, a short hop across the Thames from the Olympic Park, Gibbons is one of the Games's truly local heroes.

Friends and family were part of a huge crowd of British fans who created a thunderous atmosphere inside the ExCel Arena where they chanted her name, clapped and stamped throughout her winning run.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian president Vladimir Putin, himself a black belt in the martial art, were in the crowd to watch.

Her boyfriend, Euan Burton, 33, a judo athlete who was defeated in the second round of the men's 81kg competition, said he was proud. He took to Twitter as Gibbons reached the final, writing: "Gemma Gibbons is in the Olympic final!"

"I'm the proudest man in the world right now. Can't stop smiling. C'mon Gem!"