WOKINGHAM’S Ben Fletcher (pictured) won the first judo Grand Prix gold of his career when he triumphed in Tunisia.

The ex-Pinewood Judo Club star beat Russia’s Ramazan Malsuigenov by a waza-ari in a hard-fought final of the -100kg weight category.

Rio 2016 Olympian Fletcher, 24, overcome Russia’s Askhab Kostoev, Milan Randl of Slovakia and Algeria’s Lyes Bouyacoub on his way to securing a first gold for Ireland at an IJF World Tour event.

“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 is based at the University of Bath Sports Training Village, and his coach Juergen Klinger declared: “There are maybe only ten 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 last weekend was one of those.”