Veteran British judo heavyweight Karina Bryant finally claimed an Olympic medal with victory in the bronze fight against Iryna Kindzerska of Ukraine at ExCeL yesterday afternoon.
North Arena 2 was again in full voice all day, having roared Greenwich fighter Gemma Gibbons on to silver 24 hours before, which finally ended the host nation’s 12-year quest for Olympic success.
The 33-year-old – four-time European Champion and five-time world silver medallist – battled through to the semi-finals, having put out third-seeded Slovenian Lucija Polavder, the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, along the way.
However, Japan’s Mika Sugimoto, the fourth seeded 2010 world champion, proved a test too far and Bryant had to lift herself for the bronze contest.
The home supporters got behind the Camberley fighter, competing in her fourth and probably final Games, but she was soon behind to a Waz-ari throw and hold.
Bryant dug deep and levelled with a Waz-ari score of her own midway through the five-minute bout.
A Yuko from the big Ukrainian then edged her 11-10 ahead, but the Briton was not to be denied as she dropped Kindzerska over for another Waz-ari to claim victory, sending the North Arena 2 into bedlam once again.
Bryant was pleased to have finally delivered on the Olympic stage.
“Deep down in my heart I really wanted to go out there and do myself justice. I have had an amazing career, but this was the one medal I did not have,” Bryant said.
“It is not the right colour, but it is gold to me, because I could not have done any more.
“I fought a fantastic semi-final, but the Japanese girl is a great fighter.
“I was not disappointed, because I felt like I had given it everything.”
In the other semi-final, defending Olympic champion Wen Tong of China was beaten by Cuba’s Idalys Ortiz.
Ortiz, bronze medallist in Beijing, went on to claim the gold medal after she was awarded a judges’ flag decision over Sugimoto following a scoreless contest.
France heavyweight Teddy Riner delivered Olympic gold with victory over Russian Alexander Mikhaylin.
Riner may only be 23, but he already has five world titles and had claimed bronze on his Olympic debut in 2008.
The Frenchman cruised into yesterday afternoon’s final, where he had too much for Mikhaylin, as the European champion failed to recover from conceding early penalties.