Judo chief harbours high hopes

26 July 2012 / 17:48

British Judo performance director Daniel Lascau believes "anything is possible" from his 14-strong Olympic squad but maintains the sport's future should not be measured purely on medals at London 2012.

It has been 12 years since Kate Howey returned the last judo medal for Team GB, winning a silver at the Sydney Games.

Romania-born Lascau was drafted in during October last year following the disappointment of the 2011 World Championships, when Britain's elite performance coaching system was overhauled.

The former world champion, who represented Germany at the 1992 Olympics, feels the potential is there to perform on the biggest stage of all when the action begins at ExCeL on Saturday morning.

Lascau said: "The team want to deliver and have prepared to deliver, with confidence growing over the past months. They know that not only their families and clubs are behind them, but also the country.

"We have some fights where we will face world champions first off, but I am very confident when we go on the mat we can go step by step to arrive in the final block - if we get there, then anything is possible."

Half-middleweight Euan Burton, 33-year-old 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 worlds, are the leading hopes from an expanded squad after the British Olympic Association ratified places across all seven weight divisions for men and women.

Lascau, though, warned against simply measuring the success of the sport by how many medals Team GB may win - with UK Sport having set a target of at least one as well as three top-eight finishes ahead of a post-Games funding review.

Lascau said: "If we have no medals then we see what we can do better, but if you just cut all of the budgets, then we will not do well also in the future, or it can be that if we get a medal and they say 'because of this medal, you get extra funding'.

"That, though, is not very fair play because to introduce a new performance director just 10 months before the Olympic Games is not the best management we can have. I really believe judo is on a good way and here in Great Britain I have had a fantastic experience - there is huge potential in this country."