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JUDO REVIEW: Scottish Judokas shine in Glasgow

England's Danny Williams celebrates his win against New Zealand's Adrian Leat to win gold

England's Danny Williams celebrates his win against New Zealand's Adrian Leat to win gold

England may have topped the final medals table, but there is no doubt the 2014 Commonwealth Games judo tournament belonged to Scotland.

Sarah Clark, the veteran judoka from South Shields who only came north of the border for a few weeks training and ended up staying, delivered a fitting end to her international career as the former European champion added the under-63kgs title to the silver won the last time the martial art was in the Commonwealth Games at Manchester 2002.

Heavyweight Sarah Adlington marked her return from injury by winning the heavyweight division - only to then lose her gold medal in an X-ray machine as she left the venue before getting it back.

Royal Marine Chris Sherrington, who found himself lost in a downward spiral of alcohol abuse following his return home from tour of duty in Iraq, delighted the banks of photographers by donning his green beret and trying to take a bite out of his gold medal after toppling fellow giant Ruan Snyman of South Africa.

There is, though, no doubt of the golden moment which all of Scotland wanted.

Flag bearer Euan Burton claimed victory in the under-100kgs division, having decided to step up two weight categories when returning to competitive action from his role as a coach within the national squad.

"This does not make up for London. I worked my whole life to try to be Olympic champion, and I fell short at both Games I made it to," said Burton, who was inconsolable having lost his opening bout at the Olympics two years ago, before delivering an emotional television interview as he came off the Tatami, a lifetime of dreams gone in a matter of seconds.

"These achievements here are a credit not just to the players, who are the ones who do all of the hard work and without that no-one gets any medals, but the people behind them, the coaches, the physios, the strength-and-conditioning guys, all of the staff at Judo Scotland, they helped to make this week happen - 13 medals out of 14 athletes is a pretty good return."

Patrick Dawson almost made it a clean sweep for the Scots, losing his bronze-medal fight at under-73kgs.

Sally Conway, ranked in the world's top six for under-70kgs, will have been disappointed not being able to take the gold when she was beaten by England's Megan Fletcher, the eventual champion, and had to fight back for bronze.

England, though, also had their own stories.

London Olympians Colin Oates and Ashley McKenzie both lived up to their favourites tags in the lightweights, while Nekoda Davis - a 2016 Olympic hopeful based full-time at the British Judo Centre of Excellence - won gold at under-57kgs, beating Scotland's Stephanie Inglis in the final.

Danny Williams, who went through a drastic week of fasting to make the weight having been a late call-up replacement because of injury, produced the performance of his career to claim gold in under-73kgs, before Camberley training partner Owen Livesey defeated compatriot Tom Reed in the half-middleweight final.

There was, though, no fairytale ending for Burton's wife, Gemma Gibbons, the injury-hit Olympic silver medallist, who lost out to Wales' Natalie Powell in the final of the under-78kgs and could face a battle with the Cardiff youngster to qualify a place on the British squad for Rio.

There will, though, be little time to revel in the achievements of Glasgow as focus quickly turns towards preparations for the World Championships in Russia at the end of August.

British Judo Association chairman Kerrith Brown is determined their elite athletes will continue moving forwards.

He said: "We want to make sure we use Glasgow as a platform to carry that success and give the players that extra drive for them to start winning key matches at Grand Slam and Grand Prix events in order to make sure they are within the remit of the Olympic qualifying criteria for Rio."

 

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