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Born in Charlton, London, Gemma began practicing Judo at six years of age with the Metro Judo Club in Blackheath, London.
Starting her degree in Sports Performance at the University of Bath, Gemma continued to practice Judo, winning a Full Blues award in 2007 from the University. Shortly after graduating, she won bronze in the under-70 kg class at the 2009 World University Games.
Gemma won the Radio London Young Sports Woman of the Year Award 2006.
Ranked 42nd in the world, at the 2012 London Olympics, Gemma won the silver medal, losing to Kayla Harrison in the -78 kg event. Footage of Gemma looking upwards and mouthing “I love you mum” following her semi-final win became one of the most iconic moments of the game. Gemma missed out on a place in the under 70kg category after suffering a first-round exit at the Euros. So competed in 78kg.
The result for the London-born judoka is all the more impressive given that she was not competing in her first-choice weight category.