WOKINGHAM’S Ben Fletcher clinched his first ever Grand Prix gold medal with success in Tunisia.
Fletcher, who now fights for Ireland having represented Great Britain at the 2016 Olympic Games, beat Russia’s Ramazan Malsuigenov by a waza-ari in the -100kg final.
In what was Ireland’s first gold medal in their history, Fletcher also saw off Askhab Kostoev (Russia), Milan Randl (Slovakia) and Lyes Bouyacoub (Algeria) on the way to his title win.
“As always there are things to improve on but I’m very happy to start the year with this result,” said Fletcher.
“Thank you to everyone who allows me to chase my dreams.”
Fletcher’s coach, Jurgen Klinger, added: “There are maybe only 10 athletes in the world who can win medals in the -100kg weight division, it is incredibly strong, and Ben has firmly established himself in that group.
“The ultimate aim is to win an Olympic medal and there are many stepping stones along the way to that goal. Winning gold this weekend was one of those.”