A University of Wolverhampton student has scooped a silver medal at a junior European Judo championships.
Acelya Toprak’s silver medal was the standout result for GB Judo on day one of the 2017 Junior European Championships in Maribor, Slovenia on Friday 15 September.
Sports scholar and judoka Acelya Toprak was named Sportswoman of the Year at the University’s Sports Awards and trains at the British Judo Centre of Excellence at the Walsall Campus.
Speaking after receiving her medal, Toprak said: “I fought well today on my way to the final but in the final the fight didn't go to plan and I was caught with a strangle.
"I have progressed from a 5th place last year to a silver this year, so next year I will be aiming for gold.”
Toprak had finished fifth at last year’s Championships and was going into this year’s competition as one of the top seeds at -57kg.
She backed up that with a strong set of performances that tested her fitness and contest management. Home judoka Kaja Kajzer (SLO) was first up and Toprak showed her patience against the fast starting Slovenian.
The British judoka was able to throw Kajzer for waza-ari and, despite picking up a couple of shidos, she saw out the contest.
Kosovo’s Flaka Loxha was next up and Toprak proved too strong as she threw Loxha for waza-ari before transitioning into newaza. Toprak was able to apply the strangle and forced Loxha to tap.
In the quarter-finals Toprak found herself two shidos down early on against Jorien Visser (NED). This forced the British judoka to go on the offensive and she showed great stamina as she continually forced the Dutch judoka back.
She forced Visser to pick up two shidos as the contest went into golden score. There she continued to attack and showed good contest management as the referee was forced to award a third and final shido against Visser.
Her semi-final with Sarah Leonie Cysique (FRA) was another tactical affair with the British going ahead early on by waza-ari. From there she once again showed her ability to manage a contest as she held off a number of strong attacks by Cysique to book a place in the final.
Dutch judoka Larissa Van Krevel had been in good form all day, scoring multiple times in each contest on her way to the final. Toprak was close to scoring on a couple of occasions early on in the contest but found herself a waza-ari down with two minutes to go.
In her attempt to get a score back, Toprak was almost countered by Van Krevel who transitioned into newaza and applied the strangle which forced the British judoka to tap.
Photo credit: Carlos Ferreira, EJU