Howell announces herself on International Tour stage with Budapest success
It's time for Gemma Howell to pinch herself after she claimed her maiden International Judo Tour medal with gold at the Budapest Grand Prix.
The 29-year-old led the way for British competitors at the Laszlo Papp Budapest Sports Arena by going all the way in the women's -70kg category, sealing her first podium finish at that level.
Howell, who represented Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics and is striving to do the same at Tokyo 2020, was understandably over the moon and also thrilled to lay to rest the demons of her 2017 World Championships performance at the very same arena, where she crashed out in the third round.
"I'm just still in shock, I think," said Howell, who was one of two British medal-winners in the Hungarian capital.
"Obviously, you enter every competition to try and win it but I just guess I never had it in my head that I actually could win it.
"It was a lot of deja-vu because the World Championships were here two years ago and that didn't go so well, so it's really nice to come to this really good stadium and make it a good finish."
Howell got the better of Maria Bernabeu in the final, knocking her off her feet with a waza-ari before pinning the Spaniard with a sankaku-gatame to hit the gold standard.
Elsewhere, in the women's -78kg, world number five Natalie Powell took home bronze.
The 28-year-old, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist in 2014, won her pool but lost out to Japan's Ruika Sato in the semi-finals before battling back and vanquishing Portugal's Patricia Sampaio by ippon to make it onto the podium.
Amy Livesey made it to the final of her pool in the women's -63kg class but was beaten by China's Junxia Yang before then losing out to eventual bronze medal-winner Maylin Del Toro Carvajal, of Cuba, in the first round of the repechage.
Lubjana Piovesana (women's -63kg), Daniel Williams (men's -73kg), Stuart McWatt (men's -81kg), Jemima Yeats-Brown (women's -78kg), Sarah Adlington (women's +78kg), Jamal Petgrave (men's -90kg), Max Stewart (men's -90kg) and Chris Sherrington (men's +100kg) all bowed out in the pool stages of their respective competitions.