Nathon Burns, 24, won his first medal at the Continental Open level in Montevideo, Uruguay. He stormed through his first two fights against home fighter Duarte and Brazilian Santos with an impressive display of newaza skills. Third fight in Nathon’s words was a “strong battle” but he secured the win with a 5 point score. This booked his place in the final against Brazil’s Charles Chibana who defeated the Briton at the Budapest European Open the previous month. Chibana reigned supreme but the silver medal for Burns is a career-best result and is a great reward for his perseverance as he looks to kick-start a surge up the world ranking list from 67th position. Nathon said “I was really pleased with how I fought, I felt strong. In the final I made a mistake, I should have been more cautious and gradually got into the fight instead of trying to throw and finish the contest early on, I was up for it and wanted to win. Next time.”
Following on in Nathon’s successful footsteps were Olympian Ashley McKenzie and big Matthew Clempner, at opposite ends of the weight category spectrum -60kg and +100kg respectively, they both claimed golds. Ashley won his first three contest by ippon against Uruguay’s Rodrigo Gamou, Canada’s Youssef Youssef and Japan’s Yusuke Shibata. He faced Brazilian Eric Takabatake in the final for a tough contest. Ashley controlled the fight and out worked the Brazilian winning on 3 penalties moving him up to 25th place on the world ranking list. Matthew Clempner also won all three contests by ippon to storm to +100kg gold and climb to 61st position on the World ranking list.
Great Britain finished second in the medal table at the Montevideo Pan-American Open with a four medal haul including three gold.
Ashley flew back to Britain and left Nathon and Matthew to fly on to Buenos Aires Pan American open. Unfortunately the success didn’t continue for Nathon, losing first fight against a Brazilian fighter. However fellow elite team member Clempner was once again on form. He beat a home fighter from Argentina first and then launched Columbian Salazar with a huge foot sweep which Burns described as “the throw of the tournament!”. In the final Matt faced man mountain Santos of Brazil who weighed in at a whopping 161kg. Despite the weight difference Matt dominated the majority of the match only hesitating once which was just the opportunity the Brazilian needed, using his weight advantage he threw static Clempner for a 10 point score to win the contest and gold. Silver for Matt was still a good result and moved him further up the rankings to 46th in the world.