Judo: Donohue realises his promise

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NIGEL DONOHUE, the 23- year-old bantamweight from Manchester, came to the Tournoi de Paris - the first major competition of the year - with his reputation in tatters and ended up by winning it.

He brushed aside opponents from Japan, Cuba, France and Korea and then beat the top Frenchman, Thierry Harismendy, in the final. Even though there was no formal score at the end of the five minutes his stream of unpredictable attacks confused Harismendy, who needed all his athleticism to avoid landing flat on his back.

Donohue first showed his potential three years ago in winning a European silver medal after defeating the world champion, but since then his promise has gone unrealised. Yesterday, however, Donohue won through to the final in impressive style. His first-round draw was against the best Japanese bantamweight in the event, Riyuchi Sonoda, but Donohue, so unsettled Sonoda that it was a traditional throw, ucihmata (inner thigh throw) that settled the matter.

The next fight was more difficult. Hernandez Reyes, of Cuba, matched Donohue for speed, but Donohue fought every inch and took the match with a five-point tani-otosohi (drop throw).

Against the Frenchman, Eric Salle, Donohue attacked with hip throws. Victory put Donohue into the semi-final against a useful Korean, Byung-Ki Lim. Donohue caught Lim with ogoshi (major hip throw) for seven points. Lim attacked hard to try to level but Donohue replied with tai-otoshi (body drop) to finish the match.

Julian Davies, the other British bantamweight, lost in the first round.

In the women's under-72 kilogram category, Kate Howey, the Olympic bronze medallist at 66kg, lost her first fight but Josie Horton, from Dartford, went through to fight for a bronze medal.