BASINGSTOKE Judoka Shelley Ludford claimed bronze at Junior World Championship despite nearly being knocked out at the first hurdle.

This bronze adds to Ludford’s silver success at the European Open and gold at the Kanaus Junior European Cup.

Ludford’s day in Nassau, Bahamas, had almost ended in the first round against Belarus judoka Darya Kantsavaya.

After an even start the 19-year-old was thrown for waza-ari but Ludford continued to work in newaza and was able execute a Pedro Pass and hold down Kantsavaya for ippon.

Despite this rocky start the teenager managed to regain her composure and saw off Croatians Lea Gobec and Karla Prodan and Hungarian judoka Fanni Toth to reach the bronze medal bout.

To claim bronze Ludford faced Brazil’s Camila Ponce who had a clear height advantage but the Basingstoke competitor more than held her own against the current Junior PanAmerican champion.

Ludford forced an early shido but also picked one up herself. Ponce looked strong in the tachiwaza exchanges but Ludford was alive to any chances in newaza.

With little over two minutes left Ponce went on the attack but threw Ludford with an armlock. After a bit of deliberation, the contest was awarded to Ludford via hansoku-make.

After the bout Ludford said: “I was really happy with my performance today. I went out there and did my judo.

“I was nervous before the bronze fight, but when I was out there I felt fine and just wanted to win that first exchange.”

This result also means GB Judo have now medalled at four consecutive Junior World Championships and with senior world ranking points available at this event, Ludford should move inside the world top 100 at -78kg.

Ludford’s coach Colin Oates added: “Shelley got exactly what her hard work deserves today. All year she has shown fantastic application to the programme and constantly strived to develop her judo.

“Despite being the last GB athlete with a medal chance, she coped tremendously with the pressure and delivered a day of her judo.”