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Judoka places Olympic bouquet on mum's grave

Thursday, 16 August 2012 - 7:13pm IST | Place: London | Agency: The Daily Telegraph
Gemma Gibbons, the British judoka, has placed the flowers she received with her Olympic silver medal on the grave of her mother, to whom she dedicated her semifinal victory.

Gemma Gibbons, the British judoka, has placed the flowers she received with her Olympic silver medal on the grave of her mother, to whom she dedicated her semifinal victory.

She also told how hospital doctors could not believe she was able to carry on fighting after being left in excruciating pain when she broke her left thumb in three places in an early round of the Games tournament.

The 25-year-old Londoner provided one of the defining moments of the 2012 Olympics when, on securing a silver medal with an impressive win over the reigning world champion, she looked to the heavens and mouthed: "I love you mum." She paid further tribute to her mother, Jeanette, who raised her single-handedly before dying of leukaemia when the promising young athlete was 17. Gibbons said: "I gave the flowers to my auntie, and she went and took them along to my mum's grave."

The judoka fought on despite the thumb injury in the second round after the Team GB doctor told her she could continue.

She told BBC Radio 5 Live that the doctor had told her: "You're fine, take a couple of painkillers." When she learnt her thumb was broken and she confronted the doctor he admitted "I told you a porky pie". But she was "really happy" the medical staff decided not to worry her by telling her the truth.

Gibbons added: "We went back to the hospital yesterday, and they showed us a picture of where it had broken. They couldn't believe that I managed to carry on fighting" She also said that comments casting doubt on the commitment of Britain's fighters made by Densign White, the chairman of the British Judo Association, were "really, really disappointing". He accused some British judo team members of squandering a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity by failing to commit fully to the national elite performance programme. He added that some made excuses by saying they had a university course to finish.

White spoke out after Gibbons's boyfriend, Euan Burton, failed to win a medal in the men's 81kg competition.

Burton, 33, said: "We are hugely disappointed in the comments because we know how hard we work." He also pointed out that Gibbons had won silver while studying at university.


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