EdinburghJudo, Judo Scotland and British Judoka has had the most significant success judo in Scotland has ever had! Fighting her way through a tough day, Sally secured Scotland’s first ever Olympic medal in Judo!
The 29 year old Scot stepped onto the mat for her first contest against Tunisia’s Houda Miled and exuded determination and confidence. Conway lost their only previous meeting at the Dusseldorf Grand Prix last year, but Conway was not to be denied. The Edinburgh based judoka was immediately on the attack forcing her opponent to the ground. Miled was unable to break free and was forced to tap out after only 57 seconds.
That victory set up a difficult last 16 contest against World Number 3 and two time World Champion Gevrise Emane of France. French judoka was one of the favourites for the gold medal going into the contest as both judoka fighting cagey exchanges early in the fight, resulting in Sally being penalised for passivity.
Sally defended successfully against her French opponents two throws and managed to escape, and then reverse her French opponent’s attempted hold to successfully pin Emane for an ippon. Sally’s trademark smile was tantamount to what this win meant to her, and how the day was now hers for the taking!
With World Number 1 Kim Polling and World bronze medallist Seongyeon Kim already eliminated, Sally’s quarterfinal match with Israel’s Linda Bolder represented a fantastic opportunity for her to progress to the medal matches.
Bolder had clearly been watching Sal’s form so far, and started nervously. Two excellent chances for Sally on the ground played out only for the referee to call the fight to a halt on both occasions. In the next exchange Bolder conceded a shido forcing her to go on the attack. Sally then threw for a waza-ari and followed expertly in to a hold down. The Carioca Arena erupted with noise as Sally moved in to the Olympic Semi-Final, where she would meet a experienced Yuri Alvear (COL).
The Colombian had been in strong form earlier in the day defeating Maria Perez (PUR) and Maria Bernabeu (ESP) en-route to the semi final. With what felt like the whole of Scotland watching live Sally, rose to the occasion attacking the three time World Champion from the outset. Sally dominated the contest but just couldn’t quite get the arm out to execute her formidable Juji-Getame armlock.
In golden score, with Sally still attacking hard, she was countered and was knocked in to the bronze medal match.
Standing between Sally Conway and an Olympic bronze medal was Bernadette Graf of Austria. Graf went into the contest as the World Number 7, however Sally knew she had already beaten her twice before prior to the Games.
Graf started well forcing Sally to concede a shido, but Sally was relentless in attack. The British judoka struck back with a yuk, scoring with an ashi-waza (footstep), and although conceding a second shido for blocking, Sally held on during the final minute to secure a deserved bronze medal.
We are over the moon for an athlete who is known by everyone as hard working, determined, friendly, and has trained for this moment her entire life. That mile when she won brought tears to a few of our faces and we are so proud of you Sally!