Nekoda Smythe-Davis admits she can already retire happy after winning Great Britain’s first World Judo Championships silver medal since 2009.
The 25-year-old world number five lost to Japan’s Tsukasa Yoshida in the women’s -57kg final in Baku after being thrown for a second waza-ari score.
But despite missing out on the gold medal, Smythe Davis said she was overjoyed to come away with a silver medal against the world number two.
Smythe-Davis had earlier beaten defending champion and world number one Sumiya Dorjsuren from Mongolia by a golden score in their semi-final.
“I think my celebration after the semi-final said it all,” she said. “I’m not one for big celebrations, but to me that was everything and pulling off that strangle and reaching the final was everything.
“I knew I could relax more going into the final. The final was tough as she didn't give me anything, which makes it difficult. I prepared as well as I could, but she was better than me on the day.
“I'm absolutely over the moon. I still can’t believe I’ve won a silver medal. I never pictured myself in the final, I just wanted to feel my way through the competition and try and stay positive.
“I just wanted to go out there and showcase my best performance, but I couldn’t have dreamt any of this. With my bronze last year, my silver medal this year - I could retire happy today.”
Karina Bryant was the last Briton to win a silver at the World Judo Championships nine years ago, while Great Britain’s last world champion was Craig Fallon in 2005.
Smythe-Davis was more than happy with silver though as the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist improved on the bronze she won at the 2017 World Judo Championships.
Nigel Donohue, British Judo performance director, said: “Nekoda came into these championships with mixed form, but had prepared exceptionally well.
“Few athletes medal back to back at World Championships level, so to win a second world medal and get to her first world final is an incredible achievement.
“As Nekoda progressed through the rounds, her performances got better and better and there is no doubt that there is still more to come from her.
“We are confident she had the potential to be the best -57kg athlete in world judo. For now, though, she must enjoy this success, reflect on her achievement and know that we are all very proud of her.”