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By Liam Moakes Thursday 24 January 2013 Updated: 31/01 10:49
JUDO ace Laura Dangerfield is celebrating after winning a bronze medal at the British National Judo Championships in Sheffield on Sunday.
The 22-year-old former Arrow Vale High School pupil went up against Olympic silver medallist Gemma Gibbons in the 78kg pool and won two of her five bouts to clinch her place on the podium in joint third position.
"I am thrilled to have won a medal and it's just brilliant to have taken on the best players in the country and come away with such a reward," said Dangerfield, of Church Hill.
"I was a bit star-struck when I faced Gemma (Gibbons, who won the contest within a minute), but I can forgive myself that!"
It is a remarkable success story for Dangerfield, who only took judo up again in April last year after six years away from the sport when her local club - Forge Judo Club in Redditch - closed down.
However, since her return to judo Dangerfield has gained her black belt and entered ranking competitions around the UK in order to gain points towards a UK ranking and earn an invitation to the British Championships, to which the top 16 in each category are invited.
Dangerfield, ranked tenth in her category, did earn the invite to the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield and went up against five others in her round-robin event, which was won by Gibbons.
Dangerfield, now a member of Kidderminster's Samurai Judo Club, first took on current Commonwealth champion and UK number two Caroline Kinnane, who threw Dangerfield who spun out, before eventual silver medallist Kinnane caught her opponent in a hold down to win the fight, which lasted just over a minute.
Next up was UK number seven Gemma Wright and Dangerfield threw her for a yuko (half score) in the second minute and maintained that advantage until the five minutes were over to win the bout.
Dangerfield's third opponent was UK number five Deniz Moon who went in for a throw which Dangerfield turned back to a hold down and caused Moon to submit five seconds into the hold.
London 2012 star Gibbons was next up and she showed all her talent in throwing Dangerfield with a huge leg throw for ippon (full score) to win in quickfire fashion.
The fifth and final opponent was junior British champion Lois Brown who, in a fight which lasted a couple of minutes, caught Dangerfield with a hip throw and won for ippon to clinch joint third place alongside the Redditch player.
Dangerfield's success has moved her up in the national rankings from tenth to fifth in the 78kg section and she added: "This is my first medal at a major British tournament and it's most certainly given me the inspiration to target more success and improve even further."
New members are always welcome at Samurai Judo Club and further details are available by visiting www.samurai.org.uk.
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