Three judo golds for England
After a week of self-imposed drastic starvation to make the under-73kgs weight for the Commonwealth Games, Danny Williams intends to toast his hard-earned judo gold medal with a Guinness.
- Related Content
The 25-year-old Camberley fighter was only called up for Glasgow following injury to Ben Fletcher, but fought his way to victory over New Zealander Adrian Leat to land one of three golds for England at the SECC, where training partner Owen Livesey won the under-81kgs and Megan Fletcher took the under-70kgs title.
Scotland's Sarah Clark claimed the under-63kgs championship in what was her last competitive international bout, adding to the two gold won by the Renicks sisters on Thursday.
There was also silver for England through Team Bath fighter Tom Reed as runner-up to Livesey, while England teenager Katie-Jemima Yeats-Brown won bronze at under-63kgs as did Faith Pitman, the Essex player also confirming afterwards her decision to retire.
Williams admitted it has been a testing experience to cut down to fighting weight for Glasgow, but one which the tattooed judoka met head on.
"I was nowhere near fighting weight and it has been a very, very hard six days," said the London 2012 Olympian.
"You do a lot of exercise before breakfast, that really speeds your metabolism up for the rest of the day.
"I was having one meal of carbs every three days and six tiny little saucepans of food, and a lot of water.
"Obviously this was drastic because I did not know I was coming to the Commonwealth Games.. after this, now I could do with a Guinness."
Williams, who is in his third year of a degree in sports coaching at Anglia Ruskin University, added: "I am going to go home to Shrewsbury after this, because I have a few things I need to work out, I have been at Camberley now for six years, but I am 99 per cent certain I will be back and ready to throw myself into the Rio qualification."
Livesey, who edged out Reed on penalty scores in the all-England finale, had quit judo after missing out on the squad for London 2012, joining up with Widnes Vikings Academy rugby league side before returning to full-time training in a bid to make Commonwealth Games selection.
He said: "Having a year out has made me realise judo is what I want to do, the change of scenery freshened my head, so the break did me good. I have come back, cracked on and now the results are showing."
Fletcher, whose brother's knee injury ruled him out of contention for Glasgow, had earlier booked her shot at gold with a sudden-death score win over Scotland's Sally Conway, the world number five.
It was a break-through moment for the 24-year-old geography teacher from Bristol, who threw and then pinned down Moira de Villiers of New Zealand to claim gold, having missed out on selection for Team GB at London 2012.
"I was not ready for London, but two years to qualify (for the Olympics) is a long time and I believe I can get a place, I have proven that with today and have proven that to myself now, to be able to move forwards in the future," she said.
Clark, a former European champion, may have seen it all before, having won silver the last time judo was in the Commonwealth Games at Manchester 2002 but the 36-year-old from South Shields admitted her journey had been full of its own challenges.
"There were some demons going through my head, as they always do. Even though you have gone through it a thousand times, the doubts are always there, 'what if I don't?' But I have learned how to cope with that," she said.
Clark added: "I don't like to use the word retirement, but I will step away from competitive judo now. I have a lot of other things I want to do and places I want to go with the family. But even if I wanted to go on to Rio for another two more years, my body would not hold out."
There was no home nation success in the bronze medal contests at under-73kgs, however, as Scotland's Patrick Dawson lost out along with Northern Ireland judoka Eoin Fleming.
Conway, though, did win bronze after edging past India's Sunibala Bhuidrom on penalty scores.
She said: "I was so gutted by the semi-final and I really had to try and pick myself up. Without the crowd and the support of my coaches and team-mates, I don't think I would have been able to do it today."