She won both her fights with the same combative attitude that brought her a European silver and bronze in the past two years. She dominated the tough and skilled Italian Lucia Morico, finishing the fight suddenly with a superb tani-otoshi (valley drop throw). Then she earned a clear decision against Portugal's Sandra Godinho and a semi-final against Svetlana Panteleeva of Russia on Saturday.
Cowan, 25, who comes from the Crawcrook Judo Club near Newcastle, which also produced the British women's coach, Diane Bell, is favourite to make the final and face the world and Olympic champion, Ulla Werbrouck of Belgium, who is pursuing a record sixth successive European title.
There was disappointment, however, when the world junior champion, Karina Bryant, who won the European heavyweight title last year, was soundly beaten in the second round in the same style in the British Open last month. She was rolled to the mat five times, for five good scores, by the heavy but shorter Tzvetana Bogilov of Bulgaria.
"I don't know what was the matter with me," said Bryant, who, though just 20, expects better of herself. She showed it in the first repechage match when she smashed Ukraine's Marina Prokofeva with a counter throw to stay on course for a bronze tomorrow.
The 20-year-old light heavyweight Winston Gordon, deputising for the disgraced Ryan Birch, made the most of his chance by beating an experienced German, Marko Spittka, and after being thrown by Belgium's Daan de Coonan came back in the repechage with a fierce leg strangle that drew instant submission from Estonia's Dmitri Budolin.Reuse content