Natalie Powell, far right, with her five GB Judo team-mates heading to Olympics in Tokyo, regarded as spiritual home of the sport.

Welsh Judo Ace Natalie Powell Tokyo Bound For Her Second Olympics

By Ian Gordon

Natalie Powell is off to her second Olympic Games after being formally named in a six-strong GB Judo team for Tokyo.

The Beulah-born judoka will be ranked fifth in Japan after several impressive displays including winning gold at the 2020 Tel Aviv Grand Prix and silver at the 2019 Brasilia Grand Slam.

Powell finished seventh when she made her Olympic bow in Rio five years ago.

The 30-year-old also won the Commonwealth Games title for Wales in 2014 but was unable to defend her crown with the sport not part of the schedule in Australia in 2018.

Powell is also a three-time European Champion bronze medalist and also won bronze at the World Championships in Budapest in 2017.

At the last worlds in Tokyo in 2019 she finished seventh.

Powell will join Ashley McKenzie, Chelsie Giles,  Lucy Renshall, Gemma Howell and Sarah Adlington.

Mark England, Team GB Chef de Mission for the Tokyo Olympic Games, said: “We are very proud to be sending such a strong judo squad to Tokyo to represent Team GB at the Olympic Games. There is a wealth of talent in this group, not only from those who have previous Olympic Games experience, but right across the board.

Natalie Powell in action in Rio 2016 against France’s Audrey Tcheumeo in -78kg category quarter-final. Pic: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images

“Tokyo first hosted the Olympic Games in 1964 and there is something very special about Team GB returning there – to the home of judo – to show the world what they are capable of. Just weeks away from the Opening Ceremony on the 23rd July, we wish this team the very best in their final preparations.”

British Judo Performance Director and Judo Team Leader for Tokyo, Nigel Donohue can’t wait to see judo return to its spiritual home and for the experience that the Games will bring to the British athletes, commenting:

“It is a fantastic achievement to qualify and gain selection for what will be an historical and iconic Olympic Games for Judo that is in the Budokan Hall where Judo made its debut at the 1964 Olympic Games.

“Mckenzie will be competing in this third consecutive Olympic Games, Powell and Howell will compete in their second Games and Giles, Renshall and Adlington will debut in their first Olympic Games, who all go to Tokyo with some extortionary results in the cycle that sealed their qualification and selection.

“There is no doubt that this has been a challenging qualification period in many different ways both on and off the mat, but a challenge that our team have managed extremely well where we have seen some outstanding performances when we returned back to competition this year following the enforced break due to the World pandemic.

“As we head into Tokyo, we have a team who have a track record of medalling at key events in the cycle or have produced some world class performances on the road to Tokyo, which gives extreme confidence in knowing that we have a group of fighters who can compete and perform against the best in the world at this level.

“It’s a privilege to be representing TeamGB and believe these Games will be exciting, unpredictable and an opportunity to showcase to the world that we are ready for Tokyo 2020.”

 

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