Judoka Daniel Powell was the toast of his hometown as he took gold at the Commonwealth Games.
The Walsall star dominated the field in the -73kg weight category to win his maiden senior international title in stunning style.
Powell downed Gambia’s Faye Nijie, with whom he has spent time sparring at British Judo’s base, in the final to take victory.
It was a gruelling fight that lasted seven minutes, but Powell got the crucial ippon deep into golden score to reach nirvana.
“I started well but he came back into it a little bit. I know Faye well, but he got the same glare as everyone else does,” said Powell, who is one of over 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.
“I saw my moment to finish the contest off and I put it all into that moment. The fight had already gone seven minutes, I didn’t want it to go any longer.”
Powell began his day of Commonwealth destiny by beating Andrew Munnings of the Bahamas with two waza’ari throws inside a minute.
He then kept his patience in a two-minute contest to throw Mozambique’s Narciso Matos for ippon and secured a medal by getting past Jake Bensted in the semi-finals.
Powell was backed throughout by a partisan Coventry crowd who he credited with his ability to get over the line and stand on top step of the podium.
He said: “It means the world.
“I don’t think this would mean as much without them there. I could hear them behind me the whole time, every time I turned, I heard the crowd behind me.
“Sometimes when you’re in golden score and there’s no end to the contest in sight, it’s hard to keep on going mentally.
“To have the crowd, I didn’t want to disappoint them today. I didn’t want to have them see me lose, so they were the reason I won today.”
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