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Next stop Olympics for Walsall's Judo champion Dan Powell

Walsall judo ace Dan Powell admits he has little time celebrate his Commonwealth gold – as he quickly turns attentions to Paris 2024.


              
England's Daniel Powell (left) against Gambia's Faye Njie in the Men's -73 kg Final at Coventry Arena on day five of the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Picture date: Tuesday August 2, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story COMMONWEALTH Judo. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire.


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England's Daniel Powell (left) against Gambia's Faye Njie in the Men's -73 kg Final at Coventry Arena on day five of the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Picture date: Tuesday August 2, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story COMMONWEALTH Judo. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

The 24-year-old is still coming to terms with becoming champion in the 73kg category on Tuesday, the biggest win of his career to date.

But he will get little more than a week to reflect on the triumph before starting preparations for the next Olympic qualifying event, scheduled for September.

Buoyed by his success this week, Powell now has big ambitions for the next two years.

“We are straight into a training programme, trying to qualify for the Olympics,” he said. “That is the main goal. The next qualifying event is in September.

“It's been hectic for a while now. In the last four weeks we were competing in Mongolia, Hungary and Croatia. There have been so many competitions recently, to have the Commonwealth Games as well, it has been a lot.

“There will be a short break to let the body recover but then we are straight back into it."

He added: “It has not sunk in. Tuesday was hectic. By the time we got back it was late. I haven’t had time to sit down and think about it. I’ve had 100s and 100s of messages I have not been able to reply to. I feel bad about that as well. I need to let this sink in.”

Powell, who grew up on The Butts, just a short walk from GB Judo’s Walsall base, came through three rounds before beating Australia’s Jake Bensted in the final.

“When we fight internationally, we can have hours between our fights,” he said. “My first three on Tuesday were all within about 90 minutes of each other, which is quick.

“To have the quick turnaround of having your next fight straight after, with the different styles. It is a quick turnaround to get your analysis in.”

Powell continued: “I went in as the No.2 seed, so I knew I had a good chance of getting to the final.

“I think I started off a little slow but as the day progressed I got better. There were nerves as well.

“It was the home crowd, I was first on and I didn’t want to freeze under pressure. By the time the final came I couldn’t see me losing. It was a long fight, seven minutes, going into golden score. The crowd were my inspiration to keep going.”

Powell’s gold was one of five claimed by England’s judokas during a terrific week at Coventry Arena for the home team.

They took 13 medals in total to top the rankings, including a silver for Stafford’s Gemma Howell.

Powell paid a warm tribute to his team-mate, who has battled through 10 major surgeries during her career.

“I’ve known Gemma a long time,” he said. “We went to the same club. I looked up to her. When she went to the London 2012 Olympics we had a big poster in the club.

“Seeing that back then was inspirational. She has been through a lot but she always comes out of the end of it. If I can get a little bit of what she can achieve I will be happy.”

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