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Monday, 18 September, 2000, 11:40 GMT 12:40 UK
Peel adds to Britain's judo misery
Cheryle Peel
Cheryle Peel had high hopes of an Olympic medal
Great Britain's judo misery continued as Cheryle Peel was bundled out of medal contention by eventual bronze medalist Kie Kusakabe of Japan.

The British team were desperate for a morale-boosting victory following Debbie Allan's controversial disqualification after weighing in over the limit.

Instead honours went to Spain's Isabel Fernandez who beat Driulys Gonzalez of Cuba to snare Olympic Gold.

Yet coach Diane Bell refused to blame Peel's defeat in the half-middleweight (57kg) category on the Allan disppointment.

"The girls are very strong, they know what they've got to do. We sat them down and told them what had happened, told them to concentrate on their own thing and get on with it," Bell explained.


She panicked and when you get those nerves you try anything and everything and she just got picked off
  British women's judo coach Diane Bell
"You have to say it might have had an effect on them," she conceded, "but probably not on Cheryl because she's very strong-minded."

Peel, 24, from Rainham in Essex, had enjoyed an unbeaten record this year, capturing three gold medals in the build-up events to the Olympics.

But she was roughed-up by her tenacious opponent - the All Japan champion for the past two years - and never looked like getting into the contest.

Indeed her only points in the four-minute bout came when Kusakabe committed an illegal hold, and the Japanese competitor went on to register two five-point yukos and a seven-point waza-ari before the end.

Surprised

Any hopes Peel harboured of going for bronze via the repechage were later dashed when Kusakabe lost her next match to Spain's double world champion Isabel Fernandez.

Peel was the first British woman to compete since Allan's elimination, but Bell said was still "very surprised" she lost.

"The Japanese girl obviously did her homework and stopped everything she had. She pulled Cheryle all over the mat, I've got no explanation for it," Bell confessed.

Debbie Allan
Debbie Allan's dreams of a gold medal were shattered at the weigh-in

"Going into the Olympics she had to be one of the favourites. She panicked and when you get those nerves you try anything and everything and she just got picked off.

"She knew what she had to do, but was not able to do it," Bell added.

British protests at Allan's disqualification fell on deaf ears - despite disclosures that the scales for the unofficial weigh-in had been tampered with.

Allan was found to be just 100g over the 52kg limit when the official weigh-in took place, but Michelle Brousse of the International Judo Federation insisted she had not been given a raw deal.

"The rules are the same for every contestant and they have been respected, they were applied correctly," she explained, adding: "Nothing wrong was done to the British girl."

Meanwhile, in the men's 73 kg competition, Italy's Giuseppe Maddaloni beat Tiago Camilo of Brazil to take gold, while Latvian Vselevods Zelonijs and Anatoly Laryukov of Belarus took bronze.

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See also:

18 Sep 00 |  Team GB
GB team in row over Allan
24 Aug 00 |  Martial Arts
Randall heads British medal bid
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