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Judoka trio named in GB squad for European Championships

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Two Shropshire and one Mid Wales judoka are heading to the 2018 European Championships in Israel after being included in the first stage of selection.

Natalie Powell, Gemma Howell and Sarah Adlington are among eight GB athletes picked for the tournament in Tel Aviv from April 26 to 28. Rio 2016 bronze medallist Sally Conway and Nekoda Smythe-Davis, who like Powell was a 2017 World bronze medallist, are also included.

The second stage of selection will follow the Tbilisi Grand Prix which is on March 30 and April 1.

At the 2017 European Championships in Warsaw, Poland, GB Judo took home two bronze medals through Alice Schlesinger (-63kg) and Powell (-78kg).

Conway (-70kg) made a strong start to 2018 winning gold at the prestigious Paris Grand Slam in February. This made Conway only the sixth British judoka to have won the Paris tournament and the first since Craig Fallon in 2003.

Powys's Powell, who became the first British female judoka to top the world rankings last year, added a fourth Grand Slam medal to her collection with a bronze in Dusseldorf at the weekend.

The Irfon Judo Club member’s bronze in Warsaw was her second European Championships medal, following a bronze the year before in Kazan.

Telford’s Howell will be making her first appearance at a European Championships since 2015. It will also be her first at -70kg having moved up a weight at the start of 2017.

Since then Howell has won three Grand Prix medals, most recently at the Tunis Grand Prix in January, where she won bronze.

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Shrewsbury-born Adlington (+78kg) enjoyed a strong 2017, winning three Grand Prix bronze medals and the Edinburgh judoka will be aiming for her best finish at a European Championships to date.

Speaking on the initial eight-strong selection, British Judo performance director Nigel Donohue said: “The fact that we’ve got such a strong team already after the first round of selections is testament to the performances of this group of judoka who have performed consistently over the last year.

“They have won medals at some of the toughest competitions in the world over the last 12 months, including the World Championships and the Paris Grand Slam.

“There is still a month’s worth of competitions before the final round of selections at the start of April and we’re looking forward to seeing how our GB judoka perform at some high-class tournaments.”

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