Bell fails in final quest for medal

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The Independent Online

Diane Bell has won every major competition in a remarkable international career spanning nearly 15 years. But yesterday her career drew to a close without the Olympic medal she so wanted, writes Philip Nicksan.

The 32-year-old, who won gold in Seoul when judo was a demonstration sport, showed she was still among the best in winning a bronze medal at the European Championships in May. On paper, she was in with a chance.

Bell did not have any real difficulties against Australia's Lara Sullivan, though she had to rely on a decision in a scoreless match. The second round should have been another stepping stone to higher things - only two months ago Bell beat Yaneisy Alvarez of Spain in the European Championships. However, the more the contest progressed, the less Bell looked in command.

In the closing seconds, Alvarez put the result beyond reach with a leg- grab for seven points. Bell was outside the mat when Alvarez executed her winning throw. "I thought I'd got far enough off the mat, but obviously I hadn't and I relaxed. And the referee counted it," said Bell.

With Alvarez being thrown and held by the Netherlands' Jenny Gal in the next round, Bell was out of the competition.