Judo: Kingston planning his happy return

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EVERYBODY WHO is anybody in competitive judo in Britain will be at the National Championships at the Cardiff Sports Centre this weekend, including world middleweight champion Kate Howey, 1995 world lightweight champion Nicola Fairbrother, and 1996 European lightweight champion Danny Kingston - all fighting to stake a claim to the top ranking spot for the European and world championships next year.

Danny Kingston, back after a year's break, has to prove himself the best in Britain by beating Lee Burbridge. With respect to Burbridge, this should not be too difficult considering Kingston's record abroad, which includes a win at the formidable Belarussian Open in August and many successes in the professional leagues in Germany and the Netherlands.

"I haven't fought in England, but I am still sharp," said the 25-year- old Kingston, now training at London's The Budokwai.

The clash between Fairbrother and Debbie Allan could be epic. Allan should have the edge, she is 23 and the current European silver medallist, while Fairbrother is 28 and, despite a competitive record where she has won everything bar an Olympic gold, is now in the autumn of her career.

"She has a hold on the place because of the European silver medal, but the selectors cannot rule me out," said Fairbrother.

Howey should have little difficulty retaining her title, as should Keith Davies, at light-heavyweight and Graeme Randall at light-middleweight. But there should be a tense match between Karen Roberts and Cheryl Peel at light-middle. Winston Gordon, the No 1 middleweight, takes on the former incumbent Ryan Birch.