Judo: Britain's women throw it away

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The Independent Online
WHEN BRITAIN'S new national chief coach, the German Olympic champion Udo Quellmalz, takes up his appointment next month he will have a huge job on his hands as the European Team Championships showed here this weekend.

In brief, while there were occasional brave individual performances, there was not one medal despite expectations of at least a silver or a bronze from the women.

In the event, it was the men yesterday who produced the best overall display by comprehensively beating the Russians 5-2. But it was then business as normal as they lost to Spain in the semi-final 5-2 and then conceded the bronze-medal match against Germany 6-1.

But at least they had achieved their moment of glory. In the men's team there is not one European or world medallist, yet the bantamweight Sam Dunkley, featherweight David Somerville, light-middleweight Graeme Randall, light-heavyweight Keith Davis and heavyweight Richard Blanes all won.

In comparison, the women's team made mistakes out of keeping with their stature. Middleweight Kate Howey and the European silver medallists, Georgina Singleton and Deborah Allan, all won only one fight in Saturday's three matches.

Unfortunately, they had the strongest opponents at the start - France, who went on to win. But they were clearly not in good form and lost 5- 2 with the only successes being the light middleweight Karen Roberts and the wonderfully secure world heavyweight junior champion, Karina Bryant.

They raised their collective game to beat the Netherlands 4-3, with Bryant out with a neck injury. But in the match for the bronze against Spain, they were crushed 6-1 with Bryant having retired injured, and the single win coming again from light-heavyweight Chloe Cowan.

"I have never known a British women's team to fight like that," said Diane Bell, the women's coach.