6:35pm Friday 25th October 2013
By Sports Desk
Laura Beardsmore has become the first person in international aikido competition to successfully defend an individual world title.
The 25-year-old from Horsforth produced another impressive performance to win the women’s gold medal at the World Aikido Championships in Kawasaki, Japan.
In a competition which included six rounds of individual fights over the course of four days, Beardsmore faced a repeat of the 2011 London final against tough Belgian Gitte Wolput, who preceded her as world champion. In another closely-fought battle, Beardsmore won 2-1 on points.
She also added a further two gold medals to her collection in team events, taking her haul to three for the championships. Having previously won two bronze and two silver medals in the women’s team event, a gold medal this time around proved to be Beardsmore’s sweetest moment.
She combined with Natuley Smalle, Sarah Fletcher and fellow former Ilkley Grammar School student Danielle Jones.
Beardsmore said: “It was an extremely tough competition this year, harder than two years ago as it was held in Japan and the strength of their players is always strong.
“I’ve been training hard for eight months on developing the way I fight as I like to try and throw my opponent in every bout, so I am thrilled that all the hard work paid off.
“I am lucky that West Yorkshire has a high concentration of fantastic clubs which train over 60 per cent of Great Britain national squad players. I must also give huge credit to all of those who have supported me.”
Originally from Ilkley and now living in Horsforth, Beardsmore started training at the Wharfedale Aikido Club, at its St Mary’s Menston base, over 14 years ago.
After picking up the Japanese martial art aged 11, she continued training throughout school and university in Leeds and attended her first world championships aged 18.
She has trained and competed with the Great Britain national team for the past ten years, while also appearing at five international aikido tournaments.
Beardsmore is now fifth in the all-time medal winners for Great Britain and third in the gold medal table.
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