Judo: Howey's fresh challenge

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The Independent Online
AFTER the emotional upheavals of the Olympics, the European team championships in Leonding, Austria, this weekend offer the chance for a cooler reappraisal of the British international prospects in the coming couple of years.

The women's team, which has always come away with a medal even when fielding reduced forces, reveals some surprising choices.

First and foremost it sees the international debut of the Olympic middleweight bronze medallist, Kate Howey, at her new selected weight of light-heavy.

'I had a lot of difficulty in getting down to 66kg for Barcelona, and I think I will be much more comfortable at 72kg,' Howey said. The 19-year-old has been on a challenging weights programme in order to prepare for the stronger category.

There is no thought of a weight category change for the Olympic lightweight silver medallist, Nicola Fairbrother, who captains the team. But there are also some new faces which, even at this early stage in the season, may be significant.

Kerry Knowles, a 25-year-old mother of two from Liverpool, supplants Sharon Lee at heavyweight. Though she, too, is relatively short, her stability, intelligence and fierce armlock may see her taking over the No 1 British spot.

There is a promising new prospect in the men's bantamweight: the 21-year-old Julian Davies, who crushed all opponents in the Welsh Open. Martin McSorley, Neil Adams' old rival, returns at international level after a four-year gap.

BRITISH TEAMS (for European Championships, Leonding, Aut) Men: Bantamweight (u60k): J Davies. Featherweight (u65k): J P Bell. Lightweight (u71k): O Pinnock. Light-middleweight (u78k): M McSorley. Middleweight (u86k): J Tiernay. Light-heavyweight (u95k): D Sargent. Heavyweight (o95k): E Gordon. Women: Bantamweight (u48k): P Gemmill. Featherweight (u52k): E Summers. Lightweight (u56k): N Fairbrother. Light-middleweight (u61k): K Weir. Middleweight (u66k): R Sweatman. Light-heavyweight (u72k): K Howey.

Heavyweight (o72k): K Knowles.