• London Olympics 2012

Gibbons grabs silver after memorable judo run

ESPN staff
August 2, 2012 « Donald gets jump on Tiger in No. 1 tussle | Chartbeat test »

Judoka Gemma Gibbons continued Great Britain's medal rush on Thursday as she claimed a memorable silver medal in the women's -78kg category at London 2012.

Gibbons, 25, secured only the eighth judo silver for a Brit in Olympic history with a sudden death triumph over Audrey Tcheumeo in the semi-finals, but was unable to go on and claim GB's first ever judo gold as Kayla Harrison of the United States proved just too good in the end.

Gibbons, who had initially set her sights on the -70kg category before realising she would be unable to make weight and bulking up for the -78kg, endured a rollercoaster of a day at the ExCel Centre - one that ultimately ended with defeat, but not until after she had secured her own slice of glory from these Games.

"It doesn't really seem real at the minute but it's amazing," Gibbons said. "The crowd were absolutely amazing. I wish I could have got the gold for them but unfortunately it wasn't to be."

In the final against Harrison, an early yuko for the American put Gibbons on the back foot from the off, but she still had over three minutes remaining to try and get back into the contest. Harrison would not be moved, however, as she kept her opponent at a distance - even picking up a second yuko to give herself a cushion - and then successfully saw out the clock.

Earlier in the afternoon, Gibbons guaranteed her medal - and gave herself the chance to go for gold - with an emotional golden score victory over the reigning world champion, France's Tcheumeo.

Tcheumeo, whose father represented Cameroon at the 1990 World Cup, and Gibbons endured a tense stand-off for the five minutes of regulation action, before heading into a sudden death scenario. The tension escalated and Gibbons responded the better; dropping her opponent with a smart counter-throw for a crucial, decisive ippon.

It caused an eruption of emotion from spectators, as had been the case with all her victories during the day. To reach the last four, Gibbons had earlier beaten Portugal's Yahima Ramirez, Mongolia's Lkhamdegd Purevjargal and Netherland's Marhinde Verkerk.

It was a landmark day all-round at the ExCel, with judo enthusiast and Russia president Vladimir Putin making his first official visit to Britian for seven years to watch the action alongside British prime minister David Cameron. Putin later came down to the mat to celebrate with men's -100kg gold medallist Tagir Khaibulaev.

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