Gemma Gibbons wins British Judo Championships title

By Ian BucknellBBC Yorkshire
Gibbons on being British champion

London 2012 Olympic judo silver medallist Gemma Gibbons has won her first British Championships title.

It was her first competition since breaking her hand at the Olympics.

London-born Gibbons, 26, won all her fights in the -78kg pool, including what was effectively a gold medal match against Caroline Kinnane.

Their main title rival was expected to be number two seed Natalie Powell, who did not travel to the Sheffield event because of heavy snow in Wales.

Gibbons said: "I've never been senior British champion before, so it was great to come away with that title.

"I wasn't really sharp today, but it's what I expected coming back after surgery and after the Olympic Games."

The new champion is remembered for looking up and saying "I love you, mum" after winning her semi-final in London, in tribute to her mother Jeanette who died in 2004 after battling leukaemia.

Olympic judo: Gemma Gibbons proud of silver at London 2012

"I didn't think anyone else saw it, which sounds ridiculous," admitted Gibbons.

"But everyone's been really supportive. It's helped me cope and hopefully it's helped other people who've suffered the same loss."

Gibbons became engaged to fellow Olympic judoka Euan Burton, 33, on New Year's Eve, and he was in her corner for the vital victory over Kinnane.

She added: "He was coaching me today and it was great because he's a fantastic judo player.

"He was there to support me, and I'm lucky that I get to tap into all his skills."

Burton's move into coaching means he did not defend his own British title in the men's -90kg category.

But London Paralympic silver medallist Sam Ingram did fight in Burton's old division.

The visually impaired judoka, who hopes to qualify for next summer's Scottish Commonwealth Games squad, won an impressive bronze medal by defeating Michael Horley.