Natalie Powell – Bronze Medal European Judo Championships, Tel Aviv, Israel 28.04.18

This was Natalie’s third consecutive European medal following bronze in 2016 and 2017. Natalie went in as top seed and took on Hungary’s Evelin Salanki in the first round. Salanki made the more dynamic start but the Irfon judoka took her chances well to counter two of the Hungarian’s throws for waza-ari.  Moving into the quarter-finals Natalie faced off against Anna Maria Wagner of Germany. The eighth seed went ahead in the opening minute as she rolled Powell for waza-ari. Natalie responded well to that early setback though as she immediately went on the attack. The pressure eventually told as she threw Wagner for waza-ari to level things up on the scoreboard.  The contest always felt like it would finish before time and that proved to be the case as with just over a minute to go Natalie countered Wagner’s attack and went straight into osaekomi to finish the fight.  French judoka Madeleine Malonga was next up in the semi-finals but Natalie never had a chance to get into the contest.  Malonga immediately took a dominant grip and threw Natalie for waza-ari and went straight into osaekomi to complete the win.  This dropped Natalie into the bronze medal contest against Portugal’s Yahima Ramirez. Natalie has never lost to her Portuguese opponent and it proved to be a very tactical contest.  After an early scare Natalie consistently got the better of the gripping exchanges and her power and stamina told as she forced Ramirez to pick up three shidos.