Olympic superstar Gibbons shines in Kendal session

Olympic silver medallist Gemma Gibbons practicing with Kendal Judo Club member Annie Jo Gregory

Olympic silver medallist Gemma Gibbons practicing with Kendal Judo Club member Annie Jo Gregory

First published in Sport The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

KENDAL Judo Club's annual winter training camp is reckoned to be the hardest of each year in British Judo and now in its 26th year, the 2012 camp between Christmas and New Year was no exception.

In addition to the 100 plus judo players coming from all over the country to Kendal Dojo, three of the British London Olympic judo team, including silver medallist Gemma Gibbons, came to Cumbria for the festive training.

As one World Champion once put it, it was an opportunity ‘to get a wakening up call after the festivities.’ As well as the very hard judo training on the mat, judoka make the trip year after year for the unique outdoor activities. They include weight training with rocks on Scout Scar, running around Serpentine Woods carrying telegraph poles and dragging tyres up and down Kendal Castle Hill.

Gibbons famously won a silver medal in the -78kg category - Britain’s first Olympic judo medal for 12 years - and her stock has risen so much that she was one of several Olympians who took part in the BBCs Superstars competition broadcast over the Christmas period.

In one of the most emotional moments of the Games, she was thrust into the national spotlight after looking up to the sky and uttering the message “I love you mum” after beating French opponent Audrey Tcheumeo in the semi-final.

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Gibbons’ mother Jeanette died of leukemia eight years ago.

Gibbons went on to lose the final against American judoka Kayla Harrison.

Kate Howey, who coached Gibbons in London, was the last previous winner of an Olympic medal for Team GB.

The Greenwich judo player originally went for the -70kg category for the Olympics but missed out after Sally Conway beat her to the position, meaning that she had to move up a weight category.

Despite suffering from a shoulder injury, Gibbons defeated Portugal’s Yahima Ramirez, seventh seed Lkhamdegd Purevjargal of Mongolia, and Dutchwoman Marhinde Verkerk in her quarter-final on the road to Olympic silver, with Tcheumeo the victim in the semi final.

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