Natalie Back On Form With Silver In Abu Dhabi

Natalie Powell boosted her Olympic 2020 qualification hopes as she returned to form with silver in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

The Builth Wells judoka claimed the fifth Grand Slam medal of her career in the -78kg category.

Powell won gold in Abu Dhabi last year but went into this year’s event off the back of a couple of early exits at the World Judo Championships and Cancun Grand Prix.

“I am pleased with my performance,” said the 28-year-old. “I was able to correct a few points from the last few competitions and bring it all together to get back on the podium.

“As always, I’ve come away with lots to work on, and am looking forward to the next few months preparing for the Masters.”

Powell’s silver earned her 700 points towards Tokyo 2020 qualification

In the final, Powell faced Holland’s world No 1 ranked Guusje Steenhuis having beaten her on the way to gold at last year’s event.

It was a tight and cagey contest with neither judoka able to dominate. Powell picked up a shido for passivity but had more than held her own against her higher-ranked opponent

With just over a minute left Steenhuis took a dominant grip and threw Powell for waza-ari. Powell continued to press hard but couldn’t get a score back despite forcing a shido on the Dutch fighter.

Powell had started her day against Polish judoka Beata Pacut. Powell had lost to Pacut last time out at the Cancun Grand Prix.

But she made no mistake this time as she waited for an opportunity to throw her opponent for ippon with Ashi-Guruma.

In the semi-final, she faced World ranked No 9 Karen Stevenson with the previous contests this year having ended with one win apiece.

Stevenson came close to scoring on a few occasions with Powell eventually picking up a shido for passivity.

But with just under a minute and a half left Powell got into clinch with Stevenson and showed good determination to throw the Dutch fighter for ippon with Ouchi Gari.

GB’s Head Coach Kate Howey said: “Natalie’s performance was much better than Cancun as she has corrected some minor points from that competition.

“It is good for Natalie’s confidence to gain ranking points to help towards qualifying for the Olympics in Tokyo.”

Powell’s silver meant that GB Judo finished the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam with two medals following Chelsie Giles’s bronze on Saturday.


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