British medals at World Judo Championships in the past two decades have been so dominated by the women's team that the sport holds its collective breath at the prospect of a new male star.
So it is with some trepidation that there is mention of Craig Fallon as a real medal possibility alongside proven names like the European heavyweight champion, Karina Bryant, the Olympic middleweight silver medallist, Kate Howey, and the European featherweight bronze medallist, Georgina Singleton, at the World Championships which begin here tomorrow.
The fresh-faced, 20-year-old Fallon is quietly spoken yet in the past 18 months has stamped his authority on the international scene, winning or reaching the final in every competition he has entered, including the prestigious Tournoi de Paris, which he won. But, and it is a big but, how will the Wolverhampton bantamweight fare in the spotlight of the World Championships against the challenge from Japan and South Korea?
"I will just fight my normal way," Fallon says, seemingly unconcerned. That means his unorthodox, all-out attacking style. Malcolm Abbotts, the British men's team manager, says the challenge has been to instil an awareness of defence in Fallon without fettering his youthful confidence. "It is a balancing act," Abbotts said.
The Championships start with Bryant, the 24-year-old heavyweight on whose broad shoulders so much depends, in action. If she does well - and her European title in Düsseldorf suggests she is in form - she will not only boost the team but also secure Olympic qualification, a place among the top five here guaranteeing a ticket to Athens.
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