Howey: Medal vital for judo funding
July 24, 2012 15:43 pm
Kate Howey hopes next week will finally end people asking her what it feels like to be the last British judo fighter to win an Olympic medal.
Howey, world champion in 1997, collected a silver from the Sydney Games 12 years ago to add to her bronze at Barcelona.
However, since then, a British judoka has not stood on the Olympic podium - with Winston Gordon's run to the semi-finals and then losing his bronze-medal contest at Athens 2004 as close as it has got.
Following a disappointing showing at the 2011 World Championships, British Judo took the drastic decision to replace their elite performance coaching set-up in hope of a creditable performance this summer.
Howey, 39, has confidence the likes of leading Scottish half-middleweight Euan Burton, veteran heavyweight Karina Bryant - a European bronze medalist earlier this year - in-form Gemma Howell and Colin Oates, who finished a squad-best fifth at the 2011 World Championships, can produce the goods at the ExCeL. .
With competition set to open on day one of the London Games, Howey told Press Association Sport: "Everybody keeps going on about how our last judo medal was at Sydney 2000, which is a long time ago. I also want that to stop as well because everybody keeps harping back to me.
"It has been a long road, but we definitely do have some fighters in there who, on their day, are capable of winning an Olympic medal. If there was a gold medal, that would be absolutely fantastic, because we have never had one and a massive pick-me up for British Judo."
Britain will send a full quota of 14 fighters across all seven weight categories for both men and women. As Team GB's Olympic women coach, Howey is acutely aware of the need to return a positive display from London 2012 as the focus then moves on towards Rio in four years' time.
"We really need a medal to help secure some funding and if we don't, then it will be difficult to go to UK Sport and have a strong case," she said.
"But going forwards, we have got some strong youngsters coming through for Rio 2016, some of which are in the GB team now."
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