Judo: Fairbrother becomes the target: British women in medal hunt at European Championships

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The Independent Online
WITHOUT a world championships or Olympics this year, the European Championships, which begin here today, have attracted the strongest possible entry, putting pressure on Britain's medal hopes and especially on the world lightweight champion, Nicola Fairbrother, who is out to retain the European title she won in Athens last year, writes Philip Nicksan from Gdansk, Poland.

'International competition is never easy but I know I am the principal target in my category,' the 23- year-old sports journalist said.

In fact, after a relatively successful British Open - when she won her first three rounds then withdrew to protect a damaged knee - she feels back on course, ending a run of poor performances. 'I have been back in full training for nearly three weeks and I am confident the knee will be OK,' Fairbrother, who was voted European fighter of the year, said.

Two others from the British women's team are poised to join the long list of British European medallists. Kate Howey, the world silver medallist, having broadened her technique, could finally take her first title, having won silver and bronzes in the past.

It will also be interesting to chart the progress of the youngest team member, the 18-year-old Debbie Allan, who has stepped in to fill the featherweight position held for so many years by Sharon Rendle.

Team, Sporting Digest, page 47