Gold rushes are usually more associated with California, but in 2022 try Coventry.
Britain’s dominance of Commonwealth judo was emphatically confirmed on Wednesday night, as a further seven medals were added to take the total from Birmingham to 21.
Golds for Emma Reid, Jamal Petgrave, and Sarah Adlington were the highlights on an electric final night of fighting at the Coventry Arena, as the home nations combined for another memorable evening on the mat.
There was also silver for Natalie Powell, and bronzes for Rhys Thompson, Harry Lovell-Hewitt, and Rachel Tytler to cap a hugely successful three days.
England finished top of the medal table with five golds and 13 medals in total, with Ashley McKenzie, Daniel Powell, and Lachlan Moorhead also becoming Commonwealth champions.
It leaves them clear of Canada in second place on eight medals, with four golds, and Australia in third with 10 medals but just two golds.
The evening began in emphatic style, with 25-year-old Londoner Jamal Petgrave coming through a tough battle against Mauritus’ Remi Feuillet in the men's -90kg category.
Petgrave needed a golden score to secure his first Commonwealth medal and send the crowd into raptures.
“It’s been amazing,” beamed Petgrave. “My family coming to watch, friends coming to watch.
“They all know what I do but because so many of my competitions are abroad, it’s not easy for people to come and watch but this one is on everyone’s doorstep.
“Everyone has come to watch; I know they’re pleased.”
This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, comprises of over 400 athletes, all vying for medal success.
If the evening session at the Coventry Arena had a fight card, Emma Reid versus Natalie Powell in the -78kg category would have topped the bill.
England faced off against Wales, and it was the home fighter that came out top, as Reid bettered her “idol” Powell in a demonstration of the strength in depth of British judo.
“I haven’t fought her since I was 16 and she won. She was my idol when we fought then and she still is now, but we’re on the same level now,” said Reid.
“It was really nice to fight her – you grow up looking at people in your weight so to go on and fight them, and beat them, feels quite surreal.”
And the night finished off in style, with legendary Scottish judoka Sarah Adlington breaking into tears on the mat after producing a late ippon against India’s Tulika Maan to clinch her second Commonwealth gold.
The 35-year-old was treated like a rockstar by the baying Scottish contingent, who broke into song as the anthems were played.
“Anything else other than gold today would have felt like disaster but I’m on top of the world now,” said Adlington.
“I found it harder this time because I knew what being a Commonwealth champion meant. I’ve dealt with the pressure phenomenally well.”
Judo is far from guaranteed to be on the schedule for the 2026 Games in Victoria, Australia but anyone who was in attendance for the rip-roaring evening in the West Midlands would suggest it would be a mistake, and not only as it will dent the home nations’ medal tables.
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