Powell makes history with European bronze

NATALIE Powell produced one of the performances of her career to win bronze at the 2017 World Judo Championships in Hungary last weekend

The Beulah judoka took on former world champion Marhinde Verkerk and forced Verkerk to pick up two shidos for a false attack and stepping out of the area.

Powell continued to put the pressure on and with just a minute to go she threw Verkerk for ippon to become the first Welsh judoka to win a World Championships medal.

Powell said: “I’m just really happy and glad that all the work I’ve put in has finally paid off and got a medal at the end of the day. It’s just kind of a relief as well. You put all the effort in and for it to pay off in the end of the day is nice.

“I think my experience from the Olympics in Rio really helped. At the start of the day I didn’t feel sharp and I had to really dig in for a lot of the fights and I had to go to a place mentally that I learned to do last cycle which before that I wouldn’t have been able to do.”

The Irfon judoka overcame China’s Kaili Zhang with a single waza-ari to start on the road to the podium.

Her round of 16 contest against Canada’s Ana Laura Portuondo Isisa proved to be a real tussle but Powell countered for waza-ari to move into the quarter-finals where she met Japan’s Ruika Sato, the sixth seed.

In a tactical contest with neither judoka able to get ahead, Powell picked up a shido for passivity but the contest went into golden score.

Sato caught Powell with a throw for ippon which dropped the British judoka into the repechage final where she received a walkover as double Olympic medallist Audrey Tcheumeo was unable to compete due to a knee injury picked up earlier in the day.

Instead Powell faced Verkerk and enshrined another chapter in Welsh judo history.