Tag Archives: azerbaijan

Tom Ince says he can make it at international level

Ince believes his double against Sweden proves he can cut it at the top

By
Dominic King

PUBLISHED:

22:30 GMT, 6 February 2013

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UPDATED:

01:54 GMT, 7 February 2013

Tom Ince believes he has shown his doubters he can be a force at international level after a watershed night in his England Under 21 career.

The Blackpool winger scored twice in the 4-0 thumping of Sweden on Tuesday to finally break his duck for England, six months and five games after making his debut in Azerbaijan.

Though his performances had been promising, the lack of goals had been a concern for head coach Stuart Pearce and he made a point of telling Ince so before the friendly at Walsall.

At the double: Tom Ince struck twice against Sweden

At the double: Tom Ince struck twice against Sweden

Watch how his dad reacts

Paul was watching as Tom hit a double, but did he celebrate enthusiastically enough Paul's wife didn't seem to think so…

But Ince’s response was impressive and now he is determined to spearhead England’s quest to win Euro 2013, which begins in Israel in June.

‘It is hard when you are scoring at club level and it is not happening for you at international level,’ said Ince, who has found the net 16 times so far for Blackpool this year. I had been trying to break the duck and I had been a bit unfortunate. That’s why it was so nice to get off the mark.

‘Things hadn’t been falling for me but I
feel that breaking my duck can now really help me push on. It has taken
the doubts out of my mind. It was a proud moment to score wearing that
shirt and hopefully there will be more to come.’

Proud: Ince was delighted to get firing on the international stage

Proud: Ince was delighted to get firing on the international stage

There is little doubt Ince, who has set himself the target of finishing the Championship campaign with 25 goals, will make the cut for England’s 23-man squad and it is likely Pearce will be given the green light to take several big names with him to Israel.

While Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere are set to travel to Brazil with the senior team, Pearce is hoping there will be enough co-operation from Premier League clubs to enable significant players such as Raheem Sterling, Wilfred Zaha, Jonjo Shelvey and Phil Jones to travel.

‘The trouble with being a professional footballer is you never know when your form's going to come and go,’ said Pearce.

Step up: Players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have been called up to the senior squad

Step up: Players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have been called up to the senior squad

‘I see a lot of players being rested but on my behalf, as an international and a patriot of this country, where would the priority be on the burnout

‘Should the clubs rest for the national team I've always said the same thing – unless you take your strongest squad you can't be competitive. Roy (Hodgson) had firmly echoed that and hopefully we will take a strong squad to the championships.'

Stuart Pearce: England U21s contract extension is uncertain

Pearce admits he could face England U21s axe despite record-breaking year

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UPDATED:

15:36 GMT, 15 November 2012

Stuart Pearce has cast doubt on his long-term role as England Under 21 head coach after admitting he does not know if he will be offered a new contract.

The young Lions ended their most successful calendar year since 1991 with a 2-0 win over Northern Ireland on Tuesday. It was their sixth consecutive win, five were achieved with clean sheets, and It came after they qualified for Euro 2013 with success in Serbia.

England will warm up for the tournament in Israel with friendlies next year against Sweden and Austria at home, plus a trip to France, but whether Pearce will be in charge for the next qualification campaign, which begins next September, remains to be seen.

Uncertain future: Stuart Pearce does not know if he will be handed a new deal

Uncertain future: Stuart Pearce does not know if he will be handed a new deal

His current deal expires after Euro 2013 and The FA have not approached him over new terms. Pearce has been in the role since 2006 and remains relaxed that the discussions have not yet started.

Young Lions' year to remember…

Feb 29 – England 4 Belgium 0

Sept 06 – Azerbaijan 0 England 2

Sept 10 – England 1 Norway 0

Oct 12 – England 1 Serbia 0

Oct 16 – Serbia 0 England 1

Nov 13 – England 2 Northern Ireland 0

‘I enjoy the job I do’ said Pearce. ‘I have been reasonably successful but not as successful as I would have liked to have been. Who knows what is in the future

‘I am contracted until next summer and that has been the case every time I have gone into a major tournament. We will see (what happens).

‘Everything has got a plus to it and that is what you have to draw out of it. Yes, I would like more contact with players at times on a daily basis and more games to test myself.

Annus mirabilis: The young Lions have won six matches in a row under Pearce

Annus mirabilis: The young Lions have won six matches in a row under Pearce

‘The other side of that I have is the environment I am working in. It gives me great pride to work for the FA; working with the best players in the country is a fantastic option.

‘There are pluses and minuses in both options. I am enjoying what I am doing and we will see where it takes us over the next few months.’

England have set a record in qualifying for four consecutive tournaments but they have not been crowned European Champions at this level since 1984. Pearce, however, says success in Israel will have no influence over whether he stays on as head coach.

‘It would be irrelevant,’ he said. ‘I would like to win the tournament but I have been trying to do that for the last five years. We have had a final, a semi-final and a group stage.

‘We will try and prepare the team as well as we can and give them as many options going into the summer.’

Jonjo Shelvey set for England call-up

Shelvey set for England call-up with Lampard a doubt for San Marino clash

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UPDATED:

23:01 GMT, 7 October 2012

Roy Hodgson is set to call Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey into his England squad ahead of Friday night's World Cup qualifier against San Marino.

Frank Lampard remains a doubt for the clash at Wembley after suffering a knee injury on Saturday and Shelvey will be called in case the Chelsea midfielder is not passed fit.

Call-up: Shelvey has been in fine form for Liverpool this season

Call-up: Shelvey has been in fine form for Liverpool this season

Hodgson had wanted Lampard to replace the suspended Steven Gerrard as captain. If he fails to recover, either Wayne Rooney or Joe Hart are likely to take on the role.

Shelvey, who is suspended for the Under 21 European Championship play-off against Serbia on Friday, has started the season in impressive form under new Reds boss Brendan Rodgers and netted as Pearce's Under 21 side beat Azerbaijan last month.

Injury doubt: Lampard is struggling with a knee problem

Injury doubt: Lampard is struggling with a knee problem

Cristiano Ronaldo returns to Real Madrid to focus on winning every game

Ronaldo returns to Real Madrid to focus on winning every game and not a new contract

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UPDATED:

19:49 GMT, 12 September 2012

Cristiano Ronaldo returned to Real Madrid from international duty and insisted his focus was only on-field success with the Spanish giants and not on an improved contract.

Ronaldo has been the centre of intense speculation about his future after revealing following Madrid's home win over Granada earlier this month that he did not celebrate his two goals in the match because he was 'sad' for professional reasons, but without elaborating.

Commitment: After helping Portugal to two wins, Cristiano Ronaldo says he is focused on Real

Commitment: After helping Portugal to two wins, Cristiano Ronaldo says he is focused on Real

The Spanish media were quick to suggest the 27-year-old, who has scored 150 goals in 149 matches for Real, was eager to leave the Bernabeu, while a new improved contract was also mooted as a possible reason for Ronaldo's discontent.

However, Ronaldo last week insisted that his situation was not money-related and he returned to the issue tonight in a message on his Facebook account that also reflected on Portugal's successful start to their World Cup qualifying campaign.

All set: Ronaldo moved to assuage Real fans

All set: Ronaldo moved to assuage Real fans

'Two games, six points. Mission accomplished. Yesterday we could have scored more goals, but it is also true that Azerbaijan greatly complicated our task. In any case, the final result of both games was very positive and it is now time to return to the club and think only about my club,' he wrote.

'I would like to reaffirm, without being concerned about contracts, that my focus is solely on winning every game and every available trophy with the essential company of my team-mates and all madridistas (Madrid fans).'

Ronaldo returned to training with the rest of the Madrid squad following the international break.

Cristiano Ronaldo backed by ex-Barcelona chief Joan Laporta

Former Barcelona chief Laporta leaps to Ronaldo's defence over Madrid dispute

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UPDATED:

09:25 GMT, 12 September 2012

Under-fire Cristiano Ronaldo has received an unlikely ally in former Barcelona president Joan Laporta.

Ronaldo has been caught in a storm
after being accused of trying to engineer a new 20m a year deal at
Barca's arch rivals Real Madrid by publically claiming he's unhappy in
the Spanish capital.

Unhappy: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo

Unhappy: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo

But Laporta feels that the Portugal forward is under a lot of pressure and it is up to Real Madrid to 'make him happy again'.

'Everyone is going over the top on him. We must understand he's under a lot of pressure and is human, because we all are affected by everything around us,' Laporta was quoted as saying by Spanish website AS.

'He said something without realising the impact it would make. That's happened to me as well in the past. The important thing is that he said it because that's how he feels.

Welcome break: Cristiano Ronaldo, left, in action for Portugal against Azerbaijan on Tuesday

Welcome break: Cristiano Ronaldo, left, in action for Portugal against Azerbaijan on Tuesday

'Cristiano is a great professional. It's not easy to speak up and say how you feel when you're clearly under a lot of pressure. It's up to Madrid to make him happy again in the best way possible.'

Real defender Alvaro Arbeloa has also defended Ronaldo, insisting none of his team-mates doubt his commitment to the club.

“Nobody is going to doubt his dedication and commitment to Real Madrid. I think that the fans are very grateful to Cristiano for his hard work and for his goals,” he said.

Jonjo Shelvey talks up Steven Gerrard

Stevie and me! Gerrard's a role model who's guided me from day one, says Liverpool's rising star Shelvey

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 7 September 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Jonjo Shelvey was savouring the finest night of his fledgling England career when talk switched to his first meeting with the current senior captain.

The Liverpool midfielder does not lack for confidence and there was a noticeable swagger in his step on Thursday night after he played a starring role for the Under-21s, scoring one and creating the other in a crucial 2-0 win over Azerbaijan.

When Steven Gerrard’s name cropped up, though, there was a noticeable, respectful shift in his tone, one that compelled him to tell a story about an encounter on his first day at Anfield that left an indelible, inspiring mark.

Rising star: Jonjo Shelvey has impressed this season for Liverpool and England Under 21s

Rising star: Jonjo Shelvey has impressed this season for Liverpool and England Under 21s

‘When I first joined Liverpool, I went up to see what the place was like and have a good look around the training ground,’ recalled Shelvey, who cost Liverpool 2million when they signed him from Charlton in May 2010.

‘We were on the tour and I had just met Rafa Benitez, when I was told to walk into one of the changing rooms. All of a sudden, Stevie is standing there, waiting to say “hello”.

'I’d grown up watching him, so to see him in front of me I was thinking “jeez, is this for real”

‘A few months later we were playing against a great Napoli side in the Europa League. We were losing 1-0 and he came on and scored a hat-trick in 45 minutes. It was unbelievable. He’s the same off the pitch, a great man.’

Such have been the strides Shelvey has taken in the past two years, he has gone from an awestruck teenager to one of Gerrard’s regular golfing partners at their local course – “I’ve beaten him a few times,” he says with a mischievous smile – but this is not a relationship he takes for granted.

Shelvey is ambitious and clearly has belief he will one day graduate from the Under 21s to join the senior set up but daily training sessions alongside a man who last night in Moldova represented his country for the 97th time provide a sobering a reminder of how far he has to go.

Pals: Shelvey (right) says that Steven Gerrard has been a role model to him since he joined Liverpool in 2010

Pals: Shelvey (right) says that Steven Gerrard has been a role model to him since he joined Liverpool in 2010

‘Stevie is a great role model,’ said Shelvey, whose career began in the Academies of Arsenal and West Ham before he joined Charlton.

‘He’s been doing it for club and country for years. The way he plays is fantastic and to have him as my captain is immense. He is a lot different to Jamie Carragher.

‘You hear Carra a lot more on the pitch and that may leave some people saying “why is Stevie captain and not Carra” But he is just different.

'He leads by example. It’s those times when we have been searching for a crucial goal and he’s dug in to get us out of difficulty.’

Given how influential Shelvey was in Baku, with his subtle range of passing and precise set plays, he is odds-on to retain his starting place against Norway on Monday in Chesterfield, when England will aim to secure the victory that will enhance their prospects of reaching Euro 2013.

For the 20-year-old, who was born in Romford, it will provide another opportunity to build on the encouraging start he has made to the campaign, as Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has looked to give him, and other youngsters Martin Kelly and Raheem Sterling, more responsibility.

Mixing it with the big boys: Shelvey is clearly in Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers' plans

Mixing it with the big boys: Shelvey is clearly in Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers' plans

Mixing it with the big boys: Shelvey is clearly in Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers' plans

‘It was important to try and show the gaffer what I can do and it was nice to be involved with the goals,’ said Shelvey. ‘I want to play when I come on these trips.

'There is nothing worse than leaving your family behind, training all week and then not getting selected.

‘I haven’t started too many games for the Under-21s (Thursday was only his fifth appearance), so it was nice to get the goal and set the other (for Steven Caulker) up.

‘I’ve had a good summer and the new manager at Liverpool has shown that he is going to give young players a lot of opportunities. It’s going to benefit me, Kells, Raheem and Hendo (Jordan Henderson).

'The past year has been very good but it is not something that you can rest on.

One day... Shelvey hopes to graduate to the senior setup at England

One day… Shelvey hopes to graduate to the senior setup at England

‘I was watching the Euros during the summer and it just makes you want to get to that level. It was great that Hendo and Kells travelled with the team and were part of that. It’s not every day you see your mates play for England.

'But you need to push yourself and I want to get to that level.’

Those words will be well received, both at Anfield and St George’s Park, as Pearce believes Shelvey has reached an age now where he has got to start imposing himself on games and setting the tone.

His efforts in Baku, then, were certainly a step forward.

‘Without being too critical or putting too much pressure on him, let’s say it’s time for Jonjo to deliver,’ said Pearce.

‘He has had a good pre-season and has caught Brendan’s eye. I was looking forward to see him play against Azerbaijan and he did very well.

‘He got a goal and it is now a case of discovering what type of player he is. He needs to decide how he is best going to influence matches.

'There is plenty to work with. He is a real keen lad, who wants to improve. I’m blessed as there are so many like that in the squad.’

Azerbaijan U21 0 England U21 2

Azerbaijan U21 0 England U21 2: Shelvey stars as Pearce's men ease to victory

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UPDATED:

16:50 GMT, 6 September 2012


On form: Jonjo Shelvey

On form: Jonjo Shelvey

A goal in each half from Steven Caulker and Jonjo Shelvey gave England Under 21s victory in their 2013 European Championship Qualifier against Azerbaijan.

Tottenham defender Caulker nodded in Shelvey's free-kick after 28 minutes.

The Liverpool creator turned scorer himself as he hooked home from close range to double England's lead.

More to follow.

Stuart Pearce relaxed over England future

Pearce relaxed over England future as FA yet to open contract talks with Under 21 boss

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UPDATED:

22:52 GMT, 5 September 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Stuart Pearce is prepared to let his contract run down after insisting he is not concerned the FA have yet to open talks about a new deal.

The England Under 21 head coach has ten months left on the two-year term he signed in July 2011 and there is a sense that Pearce’s position has become vulnerable.

He is no longer involved in the senior set up and never went to Euro 2012 after Roy Hodgson appointed Ray Lewington and Gary Neville to be his assistants.

Another job Stuart Pearce took control of Team GB's football team at the 2012 Olympics

Another job Stuart Pearce took control of Team GB's football team at the 2012 Olympics

On his way Pearce aims to take the England Under 21s to the playoffs

On his way Pearce aims to take the England Under 21s to the playoffs

Pearce, though, is relaxed about the situation. His prime concern is for England to secure a spot in the play-offs for Euro 2013, which they will do if they win in Azerbaijan on Thursday and then follow up against main Group 8 rivals Norway in Chesterfield next Monday.

‘I will just wait for the tournament to finish to speak with my employers to say ‘what do you think’ what I think and (ask) are we both happy with how things are going’ explained Pearce, who has been the Under 21s head coach since 2007.

‘I can’t see (the time to talk) changing from my side or the FA’s side. Come next summer, if I am going into the tournament with only a month left on my contract, I won’t get itchy.

Out in the cold: Pearce is not part of Roy Hodgson's (right) back room staff in the England senior squad

Out in the cold: Pearce is not part of Roy Hodgson's (right) back room staff in the England senior squad

‘I am not that way inclined. We will let it run. If they are not happy with me, they will come and see me and we will get something organised accordingly.

'I’m fortunate. I’ve had fantastic support here, particularly from my back up staff. They are as good as I have worked with.’

Once this latest round of fixtures is over, Pearce is hopeful he will finally be able to get together Hodgson to build up a working relationship after the events of hectic summer.

‘Roy came to a couple of the games in the Olympics,’ said Pearce. ‘We have had a bit of dinner a couple of times to talk about the individuals I think will be helpful to him and the fixtures I feel where we will need to be strong.

‘We have not spent a deal of time together but that is not through not wanting to. It has just been the fact we have been involved with two different tournaments.’

Brief tenure: Pearce took control of the England senior squad after Fabio Capello left the post

Brief tenure: Pearce took control of the England senior squad after Fabio Capello left the post

London 2012 Olympics boxing: Satoshi Shimizu wins boxing appeal

Controversial Shimizu defeat overturned leaving referee facing potential action

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UPDATED:

06:38 GMT, 2 August 2012

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Japan have won an appeal against Satoshi Shimizu's controversial Olympic Games bantamweight defeat to Magomed Abdulhamidov at ExCeL.

An International Boxing Association (AIBA) investigation was under way into how the initial result came to be, with action against the referee, Ishanguly Meretnyyazov of Turkmenistan, a possibility.

AIBA said the result had been overturned with Shimizu now declared the winner, and he goes forward to the quarter-finals.

Shimizu, trailing 12-5 going into the final round, hurt Azeri opponent Abdulhamidov with a body shot and proceeded to send him to the floor five times in the round, during which time Abdulhamidov also received a two-point penalty.

Controversy: Shimizu Satoshi (right) lost to Magomed Abdulhamidov (left)

Controversy: Shimizu Satoshi (right) lost to Magomed Abdulhamidov (left)

Yet the judges still contrived to
score the final round equal at 10-10, which, with the addition of two
points to Shimizu's score, gave the Azeri, who had to be helped from the
ring on unsteady legs, a 22-17 verdict.

The arena crowd bellowed their disapproval.

An AIBA statement released in the
early hours of Thursday read: 'After reviewing the video of bout 105
involving bantamweights Satoshi Shimizu (Japan) and Magomed Abdulhamidov
(Azerbaijan), the competition jury made the following decision:

– The boxer from Azerbaijan fell down
six times during the third round. According to our rules, the referee
should have counted at least three times. In this case, following the
AIBA technical & competition rules, the decision should have been
RSC (referee stop contest);

– Therefore the protest lodged by the Japanese corner is accepted and the result of this bout overturned.

'AIBA officials will consider on Thursday morning whether to sanction the referee of this bout.'

Overhaul: Lennox Lewis wants the system changed

Overhaul: Lennox Lewis wants the system changed

The earlier decision was so
apparently flawed that former Olympic champion Lennox Lewis, who took
heavyweight gold for Canada in 1988 before becoming a British citizen,
called for an overhaul of the amateur boxing scoring system.

Lewis, who went on to be a world champion in the professional ranks, was watching at ringside.

He said: 'What I am concerned about
is probably the judging. I would.. change the judging system. Get some
judges who score all year round.'

Angry Japanese officials marched to
the competition office brandishing the 500 US dollars required to lodge
an appeal, which began late in the evening.

Scrap: Shimzu (right) came out of it the better but lost

Scrap: Shimzu (right) came out of it the better but lost

A decision was expected in the
morning rather than overnight, but when it came sooner than anticipated
it was sure to have pleased the Japanese camp.

Shimizu said after coming out of the
ring: 'I am so shocked about the result. I don't understand how I didn't
win. I don't understand why the judges went against me.

'He fell down and the referee gave him almost 10 seconds to recover, which is not fair.'

In a further controversy, Iranian
heavyweight Ali Mazaheri was disqualified in the second round of his
bout against Cuba's Jose Larduet Gomez after receiving three warnings
for holding within a minute.

The incensed Iranian marched from the
ring before the post-fight formalities and said: 'I have never seen
such a thing in the world. I could have won the bout but I had three
warnings in a minute. I was not doing anything wrong.'

London 2012 Olympics: Gemma Howell begins judo campaign

GB's judo gem: Howell wins biggest battle after injury and prepares for London debut

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 30 July 2012

Olympics 2012

Nine months ago, Gemma Howell lay on the judo mat in agony, subjected to physical and mental torture. Going through her head were the words, ‘Not again.’

She knew instantly that her right knee had just experienced the same searing pain as her left had a year earlier. That meant another anterior cruciate ligament injury — at the worst possible time.

‘Someone tapped me on the leg and it just went,’ she says. ‘It was panic. I thought straight away, “It can’t be…” But it felt too similar to my first injury to not be.

Brave Brit: Gemma Howell (in white) has recovered from two serious injuries to make the Olympics

Brave Brit: Gemma Howell (in white) has recovered from two serious injuries to make the Olympics

‘I was lying on my back crying my eyes out. Initially it was the pain but afterwards it was the worry. I knew it was a year to the Games and obviously it’s such a long road to recovery.’

On Tuesday, Howell, one of Sportsmail’s Magnificent Seven talents, reaches the end of that road and begins the path to Olympic fulfilment. The 22-year-old fights Gevrise Emane, from France, in the -63kg class at the ExCeL at 9.37am.

Emane is the world and European champion, so Howell will have to summon an immense effort to progress and be involved in the final at 4pm. But just being here is a testament to her strength of character.

She only began full training in March, after surgery and months of rehabilitation, and was immediately thrown into a race against time to qualify for London.

Howell had to convince selectors she was worth picking by winning her first major competition back, the British Open on May 12. Victory or home, they told her.

Rough and tumble: Gemma Howell

Rough and tumble: Gemma Howell

A grand prix in Baku, Azerbaijan, was fitted in as a sharpener but the rustiness fell away quicker than expected and Howell walked away with bronze. Then on judgement day at the K2 centre in Crawley a week later, she did as she had been asked.

‘There was a lot of pressure riding on that competition, but I figured I’ll have to deal with pressure at the Olympics,’ she says. ‘I got told I had to win it. So it was a good feeling when I did.’

Since then Howell has entered three more tournaments — and won them all. ‘I’m quite pleased with how they’ve gone,’ she says with a smile that belies the understatement.

Her success has barely been credible. She says: ‘I’ve progressed in every one — doing so many in such a short space of time, I’ve made up for the ones I missed while I was out.’

Which brings us to what exactly happened while she was out. How, after nine months off the mat in 2010 through cruciate ligament injury, did she find the resolve to do it all again With a little help from man’s best friend, she confesses.

‘I got Roxy, my yellow Labrador, when I did my first knee and when I was coming back I’d walk her and teach her to give me a high five. This time my dad Peter has kept her in the Midlands (Howell moved from Telford in Shropshire to train at the British Judo Institute in Dartford four years ago) and I would talk to him while he was walking her. So she’s had her uses again.’

Once a scan had determined the exact nature of her injury, Howell was operated on within 24 hours.

‘They took a hamstring graft to replace the cruciate ligament,’ she says. ‘Now I’ve got the two indestructible knees!’

Then came the hours of solitary rehab.

‘Everything that my physio or strength and conditioning coach told me to do I just did, religiously. A lot of it was by myself, so it’s hard to have that motivation, but I had to keep seeing what I was doing it for.

Up against it: Howell has a tough opening match but believes she can win a medal

Up against it: Howell has a tough opening match but believes she can win a medal

‘Even before I could do any leg stuff I was on the mat with my judo kit doing gripping, then gradually introduced turns on the knee.

‘It was a big challenge building my confidence back, particularly because I had the time pressure, I couldn’t afford any set-backs.’

Howell draws on an inspirational figure to answer the question of what she can achieve at London.

‘I saw Kelly Holmes win in Athens, when she had her eyes popping out of her head. Since then I’ve read her autobiography and know how many injuries she’s had and the difficult path she had to get there. I’ve dreamed of being an Olympic champion for as long as I can remember. I think, on my day, I could win it. You’ve got to believe that you can otherwise you’ve got no chance.’

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