Judo: Kingston's optimistic approach

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The Independent Online
AN AIR of assurance surrounds Nicola Fairbrother, the 22-year- old Olympic lightweight silver medallist, as she prepares to defend her European title in Athens this week. But for Danny Kingston, the 19-year-old lightweight who had a spectacular victory at the British Open, the approach is quite different.

They are two of the leading medal prospects as the new coaching team of Neil Adams and Mark Earle set out on the Olympic trail, their eyes partly focused on Athens and partly on 1996 and Atlanta.

In her job as a sports journalist, Fairbrother has interviewed enough leading sportsmen and women to know the dangers of being at the top, with complacency at the head of the list.

'I have spent the first three months of this year working on new throwing ideas, and they really paid off when I won the British Open,' she explained.

The influence of Adams and Earle, both in their early 30s, is keenly felt by competitors like Kingston and the bantamweight Nigel Donohue, not least because the coaches are still at peak fitness and teach by example.

Adams and Earle represent the new broom in British judo, and need a positive result in Athens. The women's team should be able to live on past strengths, but the men hope for a tangible result from fighters such as Kingston and Donohue.

The event starts today with two days of preliminary rounds followed by two days of finals.