Judo twins Helen and Kathryn Cartwright saw triumph tinged with disappointment at the recent IJF Kata World Championships in Italy, despite Britain’s best-ever result in a European or world championship event.
The 19-year-old identical siblings from Chichester – who train at Fort Purbrook Judo Club – grabbed fourth place, but missed out on a bronze medal by the narrowest of margins on countback after finishing level with their French counterparts.
The sport is marked by judges on the accuracy of disciplines and choreographed movements and is down to technique, rather than fighting opponents. Qualifying from third place, the duo then registered an impressive 407 points in the final at the event in Pordenone near Venice.
But even though it was not quite enough for a medal up against the cream of the world’s talent and 30 other pairs battling for glory, it was a fine result.
Coach Tina Penfold said: ‘I expected them to do well because they have put in so much hard work and commitment.
‘I knew they were capable but they were up against very strong competition.
‘It was fantastic. It’s the best result that any British competitors have ever had.
‘It’s funny because fourth place is the place where nobody wants to finish, even though it is a great result.
‘They are competitors so they were a bit disappointed not to get a medal. But they were pleased they had performed so well.’
The pair, who are both studying at university, have thrived after putting in the hours of training to get the technical aspects of the routines down to near perfection.
Penfold said: ‘They are both terrific to work with – even though I used to struggle to tell them apart!
‘But even though they are identical, they have got very different personalities.
‘They listen to criticism and are both so dedicated.’