Commonwealth Games 2002
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Judo Saturday, 22 June, 2002, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
Briggs cheers on judo's return
Judo players in action
Briggs is pleased by judo's return to the Games
Judo makes its return to the Commonwealth Games agenda after a 12-year absence and, for former world champion Karen Briggs, it could not have come soon enough.

Briggs, who won four World Championships in the 1980s, grabbed a gold at judo's only previous appearance at the Games in 1990.

She has since retired from competition and now runs judo classes at 26 schools in East Yorkshire and coaches at a regional centre of excellence.

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All the television coverage will really give young judo players a lift.
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Karen Briggs
But the Hull-born legend is looking forward to watching England shine on home soil and believes it will be a real boost for the sport.

"The Games will be a wonderful opportunity for judo and we must make the most of it," said Briggs, who works with her husband Peter Inman, also a former England international.

"We are organising our own mini-Commonwealth Games judo competition involving all our schools and all the television coverage will really give young judo players a lift.

"It's okay if you're a football fan. You can just about watch your sport for24 hours a day if you have the time.

"But it's different for so-called minority sports like judo. The kids we coach get really excited if there's even a couple of minutes of judo to watch.

"So coverage of all three days of the competition will be tremendous.

"And I'm sure it will show a lot more people out there what a great sport judo is."

Karen Briggs dislocated her shoulder in 1992
Injury crushed Briggs' Olympic hopes in 1992
Certainly Briggs knows how to promote the sport, having won medals at nearly every level.

Her only disappointment was missing out on an Olympic medal due to injury.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, when women's judo made its official Olympic debut, Briggs suffered a dislocated shoulder.

It not only ended her Olympic hopes, but also a 10-year medal frenzy.

"After Barcelona, I was offered a good sponsorship opportunity right throughto the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

"But I woke up one morning and realised it was time to finish. There's onlyso much the body can take.

"Barcelona was the second time I'd dislocated my shoulder and I broke my leg at the World Championships in Germany in 1987.

Dramatic role model

Briggs may have decided to call it a day long ago, but she is still an inspiration to others.

She even provided a role model for one of the characters in Hull playwright John Godber's West End hit 'Blood, Sweat and Tears.'

"We had to make the judo as realistic as we could so they had to take a few knocks along the way," said Briggs, who held a few coaching sessions for the cast of the play.

"And all that was on top of their usual rehearsals. I still don't know howthey managed it.

"I used to think my schedule was tough, but at least I didn't have to learnmy lines as well!"

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