Gainsborough judo star takes another big stride towards Rio 2016 Paralympics with bronze in Portugal

Jack Hodgson, third from left (Pic: Rui Telmo Romao)
Jack Hodgson, third from left (Pic: Rui Telmo Romao)

Gainsborough’s Rio Paralympics hopeful Jack Hodgson took another big stride towards his 2016 dream, with a medal in last week’s European Championships.

The IBSA tournament for visually impaired judokas was held in Odivelas, Portugal and Hodgson was part of a four-strong Great Britain team.

He and team-mate Chris Skelly both stood on the podium, the pair bringing bronze medals home.

Hodgson faced Dursun Hayran of Turkey in his first round contest.

He saw off the Turkish fighter with a throw for ippon, which put him through to the semi-final where he came up against the experienced and highly rated Vilham Zakiye of Azerbaijan.

It was a tough contest which saw Zakiye, defending European champion and two-time Paralympic and World champion, pick up two penalties before throwing Hodgson for waza-ari and then claiming the victory with a hold down.

The bronze medal was within reach for Hodgson as he faced off against Frenchman Julien Taurines.

And the Lincolnshire fighter wasted no time – the contest ending within a minute, as Hodgson threw his man explosively for two waza-ari scores to take the win.

A podium place will only further Hodgson’s chances of qualifying for the Rio Paralympics next year.

The IBSA event gives key qualification points for the Paralympics, with the top nine athletes in each of the seven weight categories at the end of this month earning slots for their nation.

Nineteen-year-old Hodgson was sixth in his category going into last week’s event.

This year he has captured the ISBA World Junior title, and earned silver medals at the IBSA World Games and Brazil Grand Prix, and bronze at the Hungary World Cup.