Natalie Powell was at a loss to explain what had gone wrong after going out in her opening fight at Tokyo 2020.
The 30-year-old judoka from Beulah crashed out of the women’s 78kg at the last 16 stage, beaten by South Korea’s Yoon Hyunji.
It is a bitter blow for Powell, who has enjoyed a great deal of success since finishing seventh in Rio in 2016, reaching podiums at European and World Championships and becoming the first female British judoka to be ranked No.1 in the world.
She hoped to bring back a medal from Tokyo but it was not to be as she went out to Yoon, leaving Powell to question where it had gone wrong.
She said: “It’s a weird one, I feel like my preparations coming into it were all really good, physically I was good and mentally I was in a good place. I was really well prepared.
“I really don’t know what went wrong, I don’t know if the nerves got to me or the pressure of the occasion but I just didn’t feel myself out there.
“I felt a few seconds off the pace, I didn’t feel like I got into the fight. Without watching it back, I couldn’t even tell you what happened.
“I got scored on early, normally I’d push on and try to get the score back quickly which is what I was looking to do.
“She kept dropping, and I feel like the fight just got away from me, I don’t really know what happened.”
The defeat leaves Powell questioning what the future holds for her, but she was quick to pay tribute to the support she has received to make it to Tokyo.
Powell, whose defeat was broadcast live on Eurosport and Discovery+, added: “The support in the lead-up to this Olympics has been incredible. Everyone has gone through a really hard time, my family, my friends, my girlfriend, my coaches in Wales, they’ve left no stone unturned and gone above and beyond to get me to this point and the best possible shape I could be in.
“For it to all end like this is really disappointing when so many people have put so much into it.
“I think I need to have a break, watch the fight back and see what happened because, right now, I don’t really know what happened.
“I’ll need a few days, it hasn’t really sunk in what’s happened.”
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