Ippon all the way for Britain

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The Independent Online
At the heart of judo is the swift execution of ippon, the perfect score which stops the fight dead. Yesterday it was ippon all the way at the European Championships here for three of Britain's Olympic medal hopefuls: featherweight Sharon Rendle, bantamweight Nigel Donohue and lightweight Danny Kingston.

Rendle, the former world and European featherweight champion, now 29, showed she is as tough as ever. Marina Kouvriguina of Russia tried to attack positively but was flattened with ogoshi (major hip throw). Chantelle van Gestel of the Netherlands was knocked down for a small score, then thrown on to her side for another part-score, and finally arm-locked. Tomorrow she meets Almudena Munoz, the Spanish Olympic champion, in the semi-final.

Danny Kingston, the 23-year-old lightweight, and one of Britain's best prospects for an Olympic medal from the men's team, had a relatively easy draw but made the most of it. Vsevolod Zeleni of Latvia was pinned securely, and Gil Offer of Israel and Davor Vlaskovac of Bosnia were both thoroughly shaken up and then thrown with the classic uchimata (inner thigh throw). A win over Ukraine's Ilia Tchimtchouri in the semi-final tomorrow would give Kingston just the confidence boost he needs for Atlanta.

The bantamweight Nigel Donohue was also on the mat, defending the European title he won in Birmingham last year - and he looked every inch the champion. Both his opponents, Mark Oostrum of the Netheralnds and Marek Matsuschek from the Czech Republic, submitted to clinical strangles - and that was that. He meets Natik Bagirov of Belorussia in the semis tomorrow.

The British team can be gratified that featherweight Julian Davies and Joyce Heron in the open weight also won through to the semi-finals; but there must be some concern for Nicola Fairbrother, who failed in her bid to retain the European title she won in Birmingham.