Judo: Sweatman harks back to youth

OLYMPIC GAMES
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The Independent Online
As a child learning judo at the Pinewood Judo Club in Bracknell, Rowena Sweatman, the 28-year-old middleweight, learned a turn into a hold which Don Werner teaches all his pupils. And it was that move - the Pinewood roll - which she used nearly two decades later to win her second fight in Atlanta yesterday and keep in contention for a bronze medal.

It did not come a moment too soon. Sweatman began the day with a good win over Anja von Rekowski, the talented 20-year-old Austrian who had, surprisingly, eliminated Emanuella Pierantozzi, Italy's former world champion. The British fighter, who now teaches judo in Manchester, contained the Austrian's attacks, and then went ahead with a three-point score, knocking Rekowski backwards.

However, in the next round of the main competition against Aneta Szepanska, of Poland, Sweatman lost concentration for a moment and was easily thrown for ippon (10 points) with uchimata, the inner-thigh throw. Just how disappointed she was could be seen in the first round of the repechage against Gabon's Melanie Nguena, for it was Nguena who scored first, tipping Sweatman over on to her side with a cross leg-grab.

Sweatman kept calm, caught Nguena on the ground, remembered her childhood lessons, and, utilising the Pinewood roll, clamped on kuzure-tate-shiho- gatame (broken upright four-quarters hold). In the next round Odalis Reve, the Olympic champion, who beat her with a five-point throw.

The gold medal went to South Korea's world champion Min-Sun Cho, who came from a score down against Szepanska to win with a throw and a hold.

Ryan Birch, Sweatman's companion and training partner, was outclassed in his first fight against Darcel Yandzi, of France. Birch was thrown with hiza-guruma (knee wheel) for seven points, and then a footsweep for a further three points. "There is still optimism in the team because we have real medal prospects in the lighter categories," Mark Earle, the British team coach, said.

Japan's Hidehiko Yoshida, one of the favourites for middleweight gold, was thrown for ippon in his first fight by Romania's Adrian Croitoru.

Again the gold went to a Korean world champion. Having disposed of the Dutch European champion Mark Huizinga in the first round Ki-Young Jeon won every succeeding round with ippon, including the final where he threw Uzbekistan's Armen Bagdasrov with a shoulder throw.

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