KELLY Dean made up for last year’s bitter disappointment in the final of British Judo U18s Championships by winning the title at the second time of asking in Sheffield on Sunday.
The 16-year-old was heading for the British crown last year but had victory snatched away from her when she misheard the referee in the final.
Sophie Edwards took advantage to take the title, but Dean exacted sweet revenge by beating Edwards in last weekend’s semi-final before coming from behind to win the final against Michelle Boyle in dramatic fashion.
Her coach at Micklefield Judo Club Ian Lane said: “She had a big smile on her face when she came off the mat.
“That’s by far her most prestigious win and she is coming on very strong now.
“If she can keep going she definitely has a chance to compete at international level – the best of her age-group in the country were there at the weekend and she won it.”
She had to overcome some ghosts to do it though, with Edwards blocking her route in the semi-final.
Lane said: “That was the one she was worried about, but I said to her that it was her chance to show that she should have won it the first time around.”
She promptly delivered, and despite conceding the first score in the final she rallied to win spectacularly by throwing her opponent for an Ippon.
Lane said: “She really fought well. I wasn’t worried in the final even though she was a score behind for most of it.
“It was a one-off and her opponent didn’t look like getting another score while Kelly was getting close.
“It went down to the last minute, but she did it and this is a really big step for her.”
However, with one trophy in the bag the Wye Valley School pupil might decide to go after another this weekend at the British U20 Judo Championships.
Lane said: “It would be quite a bit harder for her, but good experience.”