Edition No. 38. Spring, 2004. Today is

British Open
Burgess Hill,
17-18 April, 2004
French athlete, Virginie Marie and won with three small scores to no reply. At -78kg, although she didn’t win a medal, the performance of Sian Wilson was hugely impressive and she came within a whisker of making the final. In the most entertaining and attacking contest of the whole weekend, Wilson took Waza-ari, Yuko and Koka scores off her semi-final opponent, Germany’s Esther Ridder. But despite appearing to canter off into the distance, Wilson was thrown for Waza-ari herself and with just 30 seconds remaining she was bowled over for Ippon. Maybe a little inexperience cost her dear but you have to admire the attacking spirit. Ridder narrowly beat Belgium’s Joke Buysschaert in the final while Wilson was beaten by another German, Antje Merk to finish fifth over all.

Sarah Clark also finished fifth in what, on paper, had to be the strongest category as it was the only one to contain a reigning World Champion - Daniela Kruckower of Argentina. Such was Clark’s luck that she faced the Argentine in her first contest. She already had a victory against the World Silver medallist and former World and Olympic Champion Driulis Gonzalez of Cuba, to her credit this year, so the prospect of facing Kruckower could be no more daunting. Indeed, the Scot actually led by Waza-ari at one point but three minutes into the contest she was thrown for Ippon and the dream of winning a second British Open title was dashed. She took the long route through the repechage in her quest for a medal and was in fine form. She threw France’s Laetitia Blot for Ippon with Harai-goshi; Germany’s Christina Marzok followed with a delectable Sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi for Ippon and her countrywoman Jana Degenhardt was armlocked with Juji-gatame. But just as it seemed Clark would bounce all the way back to the podium, she was undone in her medal contest against a third German, Bianca Geerdts, who threw her for Waza-ari with Ura-nage after two minutes. Although she replied with a Yuko from Harai goshi a minute later, it was not to be. Clark’s biggest moment will come at the European Championships, though, where she needs a medal to qualify for the Olympics. Kruckower went on to retain her title with an impressive leg-grab Ouchi-gari to beat France’s Emmanuelle Toucanne in the final.

That was the end of the British medal hopes and the rest of the tournament was a disappointment for the home crowd – or what little of it endured the two endless days. The Saturday did not finish until after 10pm and by the time the Sunday finals took place – with no British interest whatsoever – the only remaining crowd were the French, German, Belgian and Portuguese teammates of those taking part. One potential star on show was Portugal’s Joao Pina who beat the former World Champion, Larbi Benboudaoud of France, at this year’s Paris Tournament. Fighting up a weight at -73kg he was dominant right the way through to the final when, leading by two Yuko scores, he carelessly got caught for Ippon by Mark van der Ham of the Netherlands.

There was a wide variety of nationalities on the rostrum with Russia’s Suren Balachinskiy pinning Fred Finzelberg of Germany in the men’s +100kg final. Italian Michele Monti won the -100kg when another Russian, Dimitri Kabanov, was forced to retire with an arm injury while trailing by Yuko. The -90kg final was an all-French affair despite the lack of a French name – Mehedul Khaldoun edging out Frederic Stiegelmann by Chui. France won another title when Romann Wolska scored Ippon with a huge Te-guruma with just four seconds remaining to beat Russian Denis Ogienko. France also picked up Gold in the women’s -52kg when Caroline Lantoine surprised Portugal’s Ana Monteiro – sister of the all-conquering Telma Monteiro who won two European A tournaments at the same weight this year – after just 18 seconds of their final. Belgium also made it on to the winning rostrum in the battle of the Valeries at -57kg – Degryse beating USA’s Gotay with Waza-ari from Sumigaeshi in the last 10 seconds.

« back

Order Olympic Photos!

Subscribe Now!



Pudwig Paischer (Austria)

Mauel Mueller (Germany)

Mark Van Der Ham (Netherlands)

Romann Wolska (France)

Mehedui Jhaldoun (France)

Michele Monti

Suren Balachinskiy (Russia)



Amel Bensemain (France)

Caroline Lantoine (France)

Valerie Degryse (Belgium)

Daniela Krukower (Argentina)

Karen Roberts (Great Britain)


Simone Callender (Great Britain)
Web Site developed and maintained by Sonic Boom Creative Media Inc. ©2005
All photographs copyright © Bob Willingham 2005 unless otherwise stated.

Editor and Photographer: Bob Willingham
Chief Reporters: Barnaby Chesterman and Simon Hicks
Regular Contributors: Daniel Graide, Adi Jones, Mark Law
Web Site Designer: Matt Carter www.sonicboom.com
Magazine Graphic Designer: Cole Design