Glasgow 2014: Sarah Clark’s gold worth wait

Sarah Clark shows off her gold medal. Pic: Neil Hanna
Sarah Clark shows off her gold medal. Pic: Neil Hanna
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Sarah Clark has waited 12 years to turn silver into gold, but her patience paid off handsomely at an electrifying SECC in Glasgow last night.

The 36-year-old signed off her competitive career by taking the Commonwealth Under-63kg title to add to her silver in Manchester in 2002.

She forced Cameroon’s Helene Wezeu Dombeu, a bronze medallist in the African Championships, into submission with 2 minutes and 43 seconds left of the final to take gold in a stifling judo hall.

Clark signalled her triumph with a double thumbs-up and it was fitting that the gold medal should be presented to her by 10th dan George Kerr CBE, who has played such a big part in Scottish judo’s success.

The 2006 European champion won her group by seeing off Indian Garima Choudhary.

She reached the final with a win over Australia’s Katharina Haecker to face Wezeu Dombou for gold.

Clark looked focused from the start of her final and it was a case of mission accomplished as she took gold.

“That is what I came here to do and I have come out with the result I wanted,” she beamed afterwards.

“I feel like I have done it because of the crowd. My family, friends have come to see me, it is for them and for Scotland.

“My motivation was always there and to keep the momentum going for Scottish judo is fantastic. This will be my last competitive tournament for sure.”

She added: “It feels a bit surreal to be honest. It’s been a long time coming but now it’s here I’m so happy.

“Self motivation gets you doing this sport at home and on the mat but the crowd here brings additional motivation. It adds a bit of pressure but it’s how you deal with that when it counts that matters.

“The last 10 months have been building up to this. As I started getting better and fitter again I knew I wanted this.”

Brought up in South Shields, Clark has been in Edinburgh for 20 years and there is no disputing her allegiance.

There was, however, disappointment for another capital judo star, Sally Conway, the top-ranked judoka in the event, missing out on gold in the Under-70kg event.

She opened by beating Australian Sara Collins but lost her way in the semi-finals against English geography teacher Megan Fletcher, who produced a narrow win by yuko after the contest went to golden score.

It left Conway fighting off for a bronze against Indian Sunibala Huidrom and she won the contest on shidos to at least take a consolation medal – Scotland’s eighth in the sport in Glasgow.

“The crowd really helped me push through. I’ve really had to try to pick myself back up again for the bronze fight and without the crowd and the support of my coaches and family and team-mates I don’t think I would have been able to do it,” she admitted.

In the men’s Under-73kg event, Edinburgh’s Patrick Dawson set up a bronze medal match with Australian Jake Bensted, but the contest was over in just 20 seconds as he was caught for ippon and looked visibly stunned.