Danny Kingston, the 23-year-old British lightweight, has always had the talent to throw and fight his way through a competition at any level. But yesterday at the European Championships here he demonstrated authority to win the gold medal.
It was the first of two golds taken by the British team. The second came from the former featherweight world champion, Sharon Rendle, who is to retire after the Olympics. When added to the two silvers and three bronzes won during the four competition days, it showed the British judo team is as prepared for Atlanta as it will ever be.
Kingston has been knocking on the door of top international medals for a long time. When he stepped on to the mat yesterday for his semi-final against the Ukrainian, Ilia Tchimtchiou, he appeared a different fighter. Even when he slipped behind after being partially thrown on to his side, he never lost his composure. He took hold of Tchimtchiou, produced a neat foot- sweep counter to go ahead, and then settled his place in the final with another knockdown.
Kingston knew that the European title was within his grasp for he had thrown the Austrian Thomas Schleicher at the world championships last year. Perhaps he was over-confident, for it was Schleicher who scored first, with a sumi-gaeshi (corner throw) for five points. "I thought maybe I was in a bit of trouble then," said Kingston, who trains at London's The Budokwai. He buckled down to the fight, mat- ched the score with a counter, and then finished off Schleicher with a sudden pick-up.
Rendle had a past spectre to overcome: her semi-final opponent, Almudena Munoz (Spain), had beaten her at the semi-final stage in the Barcelona Olympics. This time Rendle took the decision and went on to throw Alessandra Giungi, of Italy, in the final.
The British coaching team of Neil Adams and Mark Earle were equally pleased with the spread of medals as much as the colour. Julian Davies, the 25- year-old lightweight, took a surprise silver, and Nigel Donohue, the defending European bantamweight champion, demonstrated that he can consistently win medals, even though it was a silver in The Hague rather than the gold last year in Birmingham.
Note must also be made of the bronzes won on Saturday by the 19-year- old heavyweight Michelle Rogers, light middleweight Diane Bell, and middleweight Ryan Birch.Reuse content