JUDO: Adams looks to the future

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Some 550 fighters from 20 countries gather in the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham, today for the largest British Open for decades - prompted by the knowledge that this year's European Championships will take place there next month.

"There is a huge foreign entry from some of the some strongest countries because they want to get the `feel' of the hall," Neil Adams, the former world champion and now the British team coach, said. "It will be the best British Open for years."

He is looking to his senior members to steady the younger players in his team. "Nicola Fairbrother, the world lightweight champion, Ray Stevens [Olympic light-heavyweight silver medallist] and Diane Bell [former world light-middleweight champion] all have the experience to cope with the situation," he said.

Adams will also be watching keenly the performances of the new fighters coming through, such as the featherweight Simon Moss, from his own club in Coventry, and the 19-year-old European bronze medallist, Debbie Allan.

"This is an important year, and the fighters know that they must make a mark in Birmingham this weekend to have a reasonable hope of taking medals at the highest level," Adams said.