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Natalie Powell first British world number one in IJF World Ranking

31 Oct 2017 10:15

 BBC Sport    JudoHeroes & IJF Media / Copyright: www.ijf.org
2017_jh_natalie_powell

Natalie Powell says she is targeting the European and World Championships in 2018 after becoming world number one. Wales' Powell became the first British judoka to top the world rankings after beating Marhinde Verkerk to claim U78kg gold at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam.

The 27-year-old wants to retain her standing until the end of the year before her major title bids. "I'm really looking to try and win the Europeans and Worlds next year," she told BBC Wales Sport.

"Those will probably be the next two immediate goals and then obviously I want to win in Tokyo 2020, that's the long-term goal that everybody is striving towards."

Powell won Commonwealth gold for Wales in Glasgow in 2014, and also secured bronze at the European Championships in April. She said reaching the top ranking in the world was the culmination of years of effort.

"I'm really happy I've managed to achieve my dream - it's been 19 years of hard work but we got there in the end," she added.

"I have to stay there now, that'll be the challenge - it's to stay the number one until the end of the year because there's a prize for the person who stays there at the end of the year. "There's still three competitions left and I need to stay ahead of everyone in those competitions."

Following her first Grand Slam event win in Abu Dhabi, Powell flies to Japan on 31 October for intensive training before the Grand Slam event in Tokyo on 2 and 3 December.

She will end her season at the Masters in St Petersburg, Russia on 16 and 17 December.

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  • Natalie Powell (GBR) - Grand Slam Abu Dhabi (2017, UAE) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation
  • Natalie Powell (GBR) - World Championships Budapest (2017, HUN) - © Oliver Sellner
  • Grand Slam Abu Dhabi (2017, UAE) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation

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