Bryant boosts British hopes

Victory for the European heavyweight champion, Karina Bryant, at the Belarus International A Tournament in Minsk and good form shown by Deborah Allen and Cheryle Peel in reaching the final of the lightweight category have raised hopes of Olympic medals from the British women's judo squad.

Victory for the European heavyweight champion, Karina Bryant, at the Belarus International A Tournament in Minsk and good form shown by Deborah Allen and Cheryle Peel in reaching the final of the lightweight category have raised hopes of Olympic medals from the British women's judo squad.

David Somerville, the featherweight who has been dogged by injury for much of the year, also produced his best result in the run-up to Sydney, taking a silver after winning three matches and losing only to Ehud Vaks, of Israel.

Bryant is still only 21, which is very young for a heavyweight, and she is fighting with a growing confidence. In her semi-final, she used her 6ft 1in height and reach to throw the Yugoslav Kovacevic with a strong hip throw relatively easily. Then in the final she dominated Maria Prokofieva, of Ukraine, throwing her with another hip throw for a small score and going straight into an armlock.

Allen struggles to make the featherweight limit of 52kg, and her coach, Diane Bell, decided that, having won the Commonwealth tournament last month at that weight, she could fight at 57kg for this final warm-up tournament before Sydney. Allen's power enabled her to win three fights to reach the final.

Peel, who has qualified for Sydney in this weight, also had little trouble in reaching the final and she remains unbeaten this year.

Rather than risk injury by fighting each other, they withdrew, and, unusually, both were awarded silvers. The middleweight Kate Howey could also make an impact at the Olympicsafter winning a bronze. She lost to the top Russian, Svetlana Galian, who caught her with a five-point throw, but having won a European silver medal in May, Howey is content with her preparation for Sydney.

The light-middleweight Karen Roberts, selected for the Games, took fifth place, but her reserve, Rosie Felton, took a bronze.

However, a question mark hangs over Graeme Randall, Britain's world champion, who has won only one event since securing his title last October. He may fight in Germany next weekend - his last chance of a competition before Sydney.

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