It was a fantastic three days of judo as the Coventry Building Society Arena played host to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. The event saw the best judoka from across the Commonwealth go head to head on the tatami, with Wales coming away with four 7th places, silver, and a bronze.

On the first day of competition Callum Bennett was first up in the -60kg category. Bennett won against Mwenda of Tanzania in the last 32 seconds, throwing him twice, first with kata-guruma and then tomo-nage. Bennett’s second fight was against Katz of Australia for a place in the quarterfinal. He started well, almost scoring immediately with Kata-guruma at start. He was then thrown for ippon with seio-nage after 2 minutes. Unfortunately, Bennett was left without the chance for recharge as he failed to make the quarter final.

Also in the -60kg category, Dan Rabbitt (WAL) kicked off his Commonwealth campaign in the -60kg category defeating Zeo Agudoo (GHA) by waza-ari awasete ippon to set up a Round 2 contest against David Ferguson (SCO) who had an opening-round bye. Rabbitt progressed to the Quarter-Finals courtesy of a waza-ari score in Golden Score. Hall and Rabbitt then faced each other for a place in the Semi-Finals. Hall applied an arm lock in the opening exchange to progress whilst Rabbitt progressed to the repechage. Unfortunately Rabbitt was defeated by Simon Zulu (ZAM) to finish 7th.

In the -48kg Ashleigh Barnikel (WAL) began by defeating Chamila-Dilani Marappulige (SRI) in the opening round, an uchi-mata score for ippon before defeat to 2nd seed Geronay Whitebooi (RSA) saw her progress to the repechage where she was defeated by Katryna Esposito (MLT) to finish 7th.

Gregg Varey (WAL) defeated Bismark Yartey (GHA) in his opening round contest after his opponent picked up three penalty shidos. Varey was then defeated by England’s Alex Short after the Welshman was awarded a third penalty shido. That meant Varey progressed to the repechage. Varey finished 7th following defeat to Nathan Katz (WAL) in their repechage contest.

The second and penultimate day of competition saw Jasmine-Hacker-Jones (WAL) in the -63kg category. Hacker-Jones was handed a first-round bye and faced Gemma Howell (ENG) in her first fight, which saw a hold down for ippon and Howell taking the win. Hacker-Jones progressed into the repechage, where she faced Cecilia Chineye James (NGR), who accumulated 3 penalties meaning she was disqualified. Heading into the final block and Hacker-Jones was first on the mat first in the -63kg bronze medal contest. With a waza-ari each, Hacker-Jones countered with a foot sweep for a second waza-ari to win the fight and claim Bronze.

On the third and final day Natalie Powell (WAL) won her opening round contest in the -78kg category against Franceska Agathe (MRI) with ippon. Powell then won her semi-final contest with two waza-aris against Coralie Godbout (CAN) to fight in the -78kg final. The final block saw another Home Nations battle for gold as Powell was up against England’s Emma Reid. In a close contest, Powell came away with Silver as Reid took Gold with a waza-ari score.

Congratulations to each of our Welsh judoka of doing a fine job representing our small but mighty country.

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