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Wednesday, 24 July, 2002, 07:24 GMT 08:24 UK

Howey dropped for Games

Judo star Kate Howey will miss the Commonwealth Games in Manchester after being dropped from the England squad in the latest twist in a lengthy selection dispute.

A special panel met on Tuesday evening to reconsider the middleweight position in the 14-strong England team and decided to reinstate original choice Samantha Lowe.

"The panel felt that Samantha Lowe had complied more closely with the selection criteria," British Judo Association chief Scott McCarthy told BBC Sport Online.

"There were some reservations about Kate Howey's match fitness."

Chain of events
Lowe selected for team; Howey picked as reserve
Howey appeals against team selection and wins; she is given team place
Lowe protests about appeal decision and is reinstated with Howey again dropped

But Howey, who has lodged a complaint with the British Judo Association, hit out at the decision, insisting she was "stunned and let down" by "inconsistent" selection.

She said: "It would have been my only chance to compete at a Games and it's been taken away hours before I was due to travel up to Manchester

"Obviously I'm pretty upset. I have had a bad year with injuries but this decision is the lowest point of my career.

"I had my ticket booked and I was dreaming of being up there on the podium getting a Commonwealth gold medal - dreaming of the prestige that goes with it."

Olympic silver medallist Howey was initially given the reserve spot in the squad when it was announced at the beginning of June because of questions over her fitness and current form.

Instead Lowe got the nod to compete in the under 70kg category after good performances in recent competitions, which included a win at British Open in April.

But her selection was short-lived as Howey immediately launched and won an appeal to the Sports Dispute Resolution Panel, whose arbitrator said that the 1997 world champion's experience could not be overlooked.

Judo selectors decided to overturn the original selection decision, going with Howey's experience over Lowe's youth, but did not count on Lowe then making her own appeal to the SDRP.

At a meeting last week, all parties agreed to a second selection and a new panel was appointed.

It has been a tough year for Howey, who has suffered a series of setbacks.

In April, she broke a bone in her left wrist when falling awkwardly during the final bout of the British Open Championship at Crystal Palace.

She had only just returned from a five-month lay-off with a back injury when she damaged her wrist.

The 20-year-old Lowe, meanwhile, is a rising star on the judo circuit, producing some impressive displays at recent competitions, including a win at this year's British Open and in Rotterdam.

But her initial selection over the hugely successful Howey, along with some other unexpected choices on the team list, had raised some eyebrows among fans.


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