London 2012 Olympics: Gemma Howell disqualified

Horror show for Howell as British hope is disqualified in judo clash with Emane

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UPDATED:

09:47 GMT, 31 July 2012

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Gemma Howell was controversially disqualified from her opening-round clash in the women's under-63kg against reigning world and European champion Gevrise Emane of France.

Since switching to under-63kg earlier this year, Howell – from Wolverhampton but now fighting out of the British Judo performance institute at Dartford – won four events in a row, including two World Cup titles.

Tackling Emane at the Olympic Games may have been a step up in class, but that did not stop the Briton taking on her opponent during the opening exchanges, cheered on by the partisan home crowd.

Gutted: Gemma Howell was left with her head in her hands after being disqualified on Tuesday morning

Gutted: Gemma Howell was left with her head in her hands after being disqualified on Tuesday morning

The bad news: Gemma Howell learns she is disqualified during her clash with Gevrise Emane

The bad news: Gemma Howell learns she is disqualified during her clash with Gevrise Emane

There were boos when Howell, one of Sportsmail's Magnificent Seven, picked up a passivity penalty with two minutes left. With less than 30 seconds to go before golden score, the fighters fell to the ground, with video referees ruling that Howell had illegally grabbed her opponent's leg, and that meant she was automatically disqualified.

Scottish fighter Euan Burton leads the Team GB medal hopes in the under-81kg half-middleweights.

After being given a bye into the second round, Burton, world bronze medallist in 2010, will face Antoine Valois-Fortier.

In the first contest on mat two on Tuesday morning, Canadian Valois-Fortier pulled off a shock judges' flag victory over Elnur Mammadli of Azerbaijan, the reigning European champion who won Olympic gold at under-73kg in Beijing.

Getting a grip: Gemma Howell and Gevrise Emane battle it out

Getting a grip: Gemma Howell and Gevrise Emane battle it out

Hitting the mat: Gevrise Emane and Gemma Howell