Camberley fighters returned from the World Championships held in Paris with a 7th place, and some valuable experiences. Craig, Danny and Karina arrived back at the dojo in good spirits and bursting with stories of the sensational judo they witnessed at the Bercy stadium. An unbelievable 880 athletes from 132 nations took part in the event.
Craig Fallon kicked off the Camberley campaign for a World Championship medal on day one. Having previously won the Worlds in 2005 at the lighter weight of -60kg, Fallon’s performance at his new weight of 66kg was eagerly anticipated. He faced Bulgarian Martin Ivanov in the 1st round. Fallon took the lead after only 30 secs with a near perfect throw. A clash of heads resulted in medical treatment for Craig. After the restart Craig dominated a gripping exchange but was caught backwards for ippon meaning the end of his championships.
Danny Williams the only fighter to be selected at -73kg for GBR, was in the largest category of the day with 101 competitors. A daunting task for most but after a bye in the first round headstrong Williams charged into the competition determined to make his mark. He drew Georgian Tengiz Paposhvili in the second round, it was an intense match and his determination saw him pull the fight back from being down a score to produce a fanastic win in the dying moments. Danny then faced Russian Mansur Isaev, ranked number 6 in the World and won bronze in the 2009 World Championships. Williams made a bold attempt applying as much pressure as he could to his opponent however he narrowly lost by two yuko penalty points which meant he was out of the tournament. Isaev went on to take 7th place.
On the last day we saw Karina Bryant take to the mat, Camberley’s last hope of bringing the so far elusive medal home. Karina has a phenomenal track record with 20 major Championships medals to her name. A Bye in the first round meant her first battle was against Venezuelan Giovanna Blanco reigning South American champion who had ended the Briton’s repechage run in Athens. It turned out to be not too much of a challenge with Karina despatching her opponent with a lovely ippon throw in little more than 1 minute. Bryant looked confident and focused as she gripped up with the huge 160kg Polish fighter Urszula Sadkowska. After going down a score she used her superior skill and foot swept Sadkowska then held her down for ippon. The excitement was building as Karina progressed through the competition. Next up was the quarter final and China’s Qian Quin who won silver at the 2010 World Championships. On the day this fighter got the better of Bryant seeing her drop down to the repecharge final to face Russian Elena Ivaschenko, another tough competitor. A similar build to Karina, Ivaschenko was slightly too strong for the Camberley fighter who has recently returned to the mat after a neck injury and put an end to her bid for a medal that day, leaving her with 7th place. Ivaschenko went on to take the bronze medal whilst Quin won the silver.
So no medals this time for Camberley or the British team, coach Luke Preston is philosophical about the performances however and says “Craig Fallon is still building into a new category and a mistake cost him dearly this time. Danny Williams really proved that he can compete with the best in the world at 73kg and is continuing to improve with every tournament. His performance was very encouraging. For Karina Bryant to place in the world’s top 7 yet again after all of her time off the mat with an extremely serious neck injury is testament to her determination and focus on her training and rehabilitation. With London 2012 less than a year away all of the elite senior team remain focussed on qualifying and medalling at our home games.”