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Thursday, 1 August, 2002, 18:37 GMT 19:37 UK

Lowe answers her critics

By Mike Burnett
BBC Sport Online at the G-Mex

England's Samantha Lowe left the G-Mex hall vindicated after a gold-winning performance on Thursday night.

Lowe clinched the under 70kg title by beating Canada's Catherine Roberge with a submission on the final day of judo action.

Beaten semi-finalist Amanda Costello of Scotland and repechage winner Sisilia Nasiga shared the bronze.

It was one of three gold medals won by England on the night, with Michelle Rogers and Simone Callender also triumphing in their respective weight categories.

"I can't do any more than get the gold, so hopefully that is enough for some people"
Samantha Lowe

But Lowe took centre stage, producing just the display she needed to answer her critics.

"It's so encouraging to have everybody behind you, especially after what I have been through with the selection," she said afterwards.

"It's nice to know that the crowd are still on my side. Hopefully that means they believe the selection was right."

The 20-year-old had suffered a tough run-up to the Games in Manchester.

Lowe, who won the 2002 British Open in April, was originally picked ahead Sydney Olympic medallist Kate Howey on recent results.

But veteran Howey appealed against omission from the team, arguing her wealth of experience should be taken into account, and was given Lowe's place.

But a further appeal by Lowe to the Sports Dispute Resolution Panel ended with the Camberley fighter being re-instated.

It was an embarrassing situation for the England judo team and the British Judo Association, which had been instrumental in the selection process.

It also prompted the resignation of England women's team coach Winn Bolton, who had initially selected Lowe.

But a clinical performance by Lowe on Thursday soon showed she was the right choice.

She got off to a searing start in the competition, beating Northern Ireland's Claire Rainey in just 21 seconds.

In the semi-finals, she battled past bronze medallist Costello to set up a clash with Roberge, who she quickly got to the ground and put into a stranglehold for victory.

Team manager Barry James was delighted with the result: "The justification is one aspect of it, but here is someone who has worked hard and got their reward."

Lowe said the controversy had actually helped to motivate her to success.

"It's given me that extra push to show everyone that I deserve to be here," she said.

"It's been a nightmare to prepare, as it's been in the back of my mind having to prove to some sceptics who thought that Kate deserved to be here.

"I can't do any more than get the gold, so hopefully that is enough for some people. For anyone who doesn't think I should be here, well there's the proof."


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