Sport Northern Ireland funded athlete Lisa Kearney produced the finest performance of her fledgling career to win her third World Cup medal in twelve months.
In the 2010 GB Judo World Cup the -48kg category was particularly strong. 28 athletes from 21 countries including World, European, Asian and Pan American medalists all competed for valuable Olympic qualifying points.
After a first round bye, Kearney had a tough route to the semi finals. She enjoyed a convincing win against Marlene Robert (France) and a thrilling ‘Golden Score’ victory over former Asian Champion Jun Xiao of China. Lisa’s one defeat was in the semi final against the eventual winner and ‘Player of the Tournament’ Charlene Van Snick (Belgium). This meant that Kearney would have to face 2009 World Silver medalist Oiano Blanco in the Bronze medal match. The players had met once before in the Tunis Grand Prix in May, where the Spaniard made light work of the 20-year-old Irish girl, eight years her junior. However a string of impressive performances over the summer suggested that Kearney would be a more formidable opponent in this Olympic qualifier. The contest lasted only 50 seconds before Kearney unleashed a spectacular combination that resulted in an ‘Ippon’ score and the coveted World Cup medal.
The International Judo Federation World Cup circuit will determine which athletes qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. On 1 May 2012 the top 14 Women and top 22 Men in the World ranking will qualify by right for the Games.
Lisa has placed in the top 7 of each of her last 5 World Cups (Silver-San Salvador, Bronze-Birmingham, 5th-Miami, 5th-Caracas, 7th-Tallinn) and will hope to continue her recent good form in the Rotterdam and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in the coming weeks.