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Judo ace Ben Quilter, from Stone, won a bronze medal at the Paralympics
JUDO ace Ben Quilter has given north Kent something to be proud of after winning a Paralympic bronze medal.
The 30-year-old, who lives in Stone, battled back from defeat in his opening contest to take the bronze in the under 60kg class - the same weight division in which he finished fifth at his first Paralympic Games in Beijing 2008.
Despite targeting gold, he said winning bronze at the ExCel meant "a massive amount" after suffering a secret injury to his left knee in training just seven weeks ago.
Ben, who is originally from Brighton, began practising judo aged seven, but was diagnosed with Stargardt disease - a rare genetic sight disorder - three years later.
The condition means he has no central vision and can only see peripherally.
On Thursday (August 30) Ben had a bye in his opening round but then drew with Mouloud Noura of Algeria in the quarterfinals.
The British athlete put up a gritty battle but it was the Algerian who took the honours, winning the bout with a Tai-otoshi throw that scored a contest-winning Ippon with a minute and 40 seconds remaining.
Ben said: "It was touch and go whether I’d be here after I injured my knee.
"I had some great treatment and rehab to help me through it, but I was struggling to do my best judo.
"I’m delighted to be walking away with a medal. It’s a real achievement and something I will be very proud of.
"Winning bronze means a massive amount to me."
Defeat to Noura put Ben into the repechage and a bout against Mongolia’s Munkhbat Aajim.
This time Ben scored an Ippon with a Koshi-guruma throw just under three minutes into the contest to progress to the next stage of the repechage.
Ronald Hawthorne of the USA was next up, but after the American achieved an early score, Ben dominated by wrapping up the contest in three minutes and two seconds, with two Waza-ari scores which added together gave him victory.
That put him into a battle for bronze against Japan’s Takaaki Hirai in a contest that was a repeat of last year’s IBSA World Games final in Turkey.
The result was the same too, with Ben triumphing to take bronze.
It took Ben just over a minute to secure his medal, pinning his opponent to the mat with a Kuzure-tate-shiho-gatame hold to score Ippon.
Two years ago Ben became the first British judoka with a visual impairment to be crowned world champion for 12 years and last year he won both the IBSA World Games gold and the European Championships title.