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Thursday, 25 July, 2002, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK

Lowe defends her selection

Samantha Lowe has no sympathy for Kate Howey after edging out her England team-mate and rival for Commonwealth Games selection.

Although Lowe was originally selected with Howey as reserve, the decision was successfully challenged by Howey at a Sports Dispute Resolution Panel hearing.

"Kate and I are not friends and I'm not upset about it"
Samantha Lowe

But the dispute did not end there and a new selection panel, appointed to make a final judgement, ruled in Lowe's favour leaving Howey in despair.

But 20-year-old Lowe insists she deserves the number one slot ahead of Howey and is aiming for gold in the 70kg category.

"On current form I am the number one, and I'm delighted to be re-elected," said Lowe.

"I don't feel sorry for Kate. She and I are not friends and I'm not upset about it.

Howey is adamant that she was leading her bout with Lowe in the British Open final in April before breaking her wrist, but Lowe disputes Howey's version.

"I would like to have won the fight differently but the way the fight was heading I felt I was going to win anyway and this was one of the factors in me being selected.

"But throughout the year I have been the more consistent and deserved it."

Howey said she feels "stunned and let down" by "inconsistent" England selectors.

Howey, who already has Olympic, World and European medals, was banking on completing the set in Manchester, but doubts over Howey's fitness led the selectors to plump for Lowe.

"I have waited 12 years for this and it has been taken away from me," said Howey..

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

"It has stunned me to be quite honest and I feel a little let down by it all.

"The reason the panel gave is that they don't think I'm fit enough to compete but they've not given me chance to prove my fitness."

"I had my ticket booked and I was dreaming of being on the podium getting a Commonwealth gold medal"
Kate Howey

Howe has lodged a complaint with British Judo Association about the selection merry-go-round which has led to her missing out on the chance to strike gold on home soil.

But the 29-year-old from Andover now fears she is destined never to compete in a Commonwealth Games.

Howey was deemed too young to compete at the Auckland Games in 1990 and didnot have the chance in Victoria or Kuala Lumpur where judo did not feature.

"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," said Howey.

"I had my ticket booked and I was dreaming of being on the podium getting a Commonwealth gold medal."

The reigning world champion and Olympic silver medallist now plans to put the nightmare behind her and concentrate on the 2004 Olympics.

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