Britain's men's team lagged behind the women on the first day of the European Championships here yesterday, writes Philip Nicksan from The Hague.
The light-heavyweight Kate Howey, the light-middleweight Diane Bell and the new heavyweight, Michelle Rogers, all fought with intelligence and purpose to secure semi-final places tomorrow.
For the men, only Ryan Birch managed a repechage place with a chance for a bronze. Birch, having made the transition to middleweight only this year, was only beaten by Oleg Malstev, a very capable Russian.
Though only 20, Rogers threw the larger and more experienced Beata Maskymov of Poland three times in the first round, and Svetlana Lyssianskaija of Ukraine twice. If she can win an unexpected medal from this event, she should have a good chance of qualifying for the Olympics.
Bell, who has already qualified, won each of her two fights within the four-minute span, flattening Susana Singer of Germany with a footsweep and strangling Cinzia Cavazutti. Howey also produced a perfect throw, uchimata (inner thigh throw) on Tatiana Beliaeva.