Olympic Games: Judo: Rendle grasps bronze

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The Independent Online
Sharon Rendle, recovering well mentally after a poor decision stopped her getting to the final took a consolation bronze medal in the featherweight category of the judo competition here yesterday.

In the bronze medal fight she met her old rival Jessica Gal, of the Netherlands, and Rendle beat her comfortably. She scored first of all with kouchi-gari (inner-foot sweep) then scored seven points with a shoulder throw and finished with a counter for judo's top score, ippon.

Her journey to a medal was not an easy one. The first few days here had shown that, when under pressure from the crowd, the judging was suspect. But few contestants received such a questionable decision as the one that put Rendle out at the quarter-final stage after a four-minute contest against Almudena Munoz of Spain.

Despite the passivity rules which stipulate that an attack must be made within a reasonable time, which generally means within 30 seconds or less, there were times when Munoz did not attack for considerably longer periods.

Five seconds from the end of the four minute period, both contestants were given passivity penalties. At the decision, the referee adjudged in favour of Rendle, but both corner judges went for Munoz. Even the Spanish woman could not disguise her surprise.

'It was the worst decision I have ever seen,' Roy Inman, the British women's team manager, said. However, this decision put Rendle into the repechage, and she came out angrily, throwing and armlocking Jo Quiring, of the United States, before catching Claudia Mariani, of Argentina, with uchimata sukashi (inner-thigh slip) - the throw with which she began the day. Mariana Karagiannopolous, of Greece, was unlikely to present a very tough problem for the world silver medallist from Hull, but Rendle soon made it clear that she was in no mood for taking things easy. .

Karagiannopolous tried, attacking immediately with three drop shoulder throws in quick succession. But in her first real attack, an uchimata (inner-thigh throw) she was punished heavily, Rendle avoiding and flashing back into the attack with the counter.

The second fight did not last very much longer even though Eva Wikstrom, of Sweden, is an experienced competitor and knows Rendle's repertoire. After an initial flurry, Rendle attacked with kata-guruma (shoulder wheel), scoring five points. Seconds later, she caught Wikstrom on the ground, and rolled her into the inevitable juji-gatame (armlock). After that only Gal stood between her and a medal.

Ian Freeman, the 19-year-old featherweight from Camberley Judo Club, had another disappointing contest. In May, he was ejected in the first round of the European championships, and much the same thing happened here. Francisco Morales of Argentina was a strong first opponent to face, but if Freeman could get past him, he stood a good chance of fighting through to the quarter- finals at least.

After a minute, Morales threw Freeman with a side-sacrifice throw that the Englishman himself uses, scoring five points. And try as he might, Freeman failed to level the score. With Morales himself losing to the skilful Brazilian, Rogiero Cardoso, Freeman did not have a chance to fight for a bronze through the repechage.