Three Shropshire judo heroines start the year at Mittersill

Action is well underway at the Mittersill Olympic Training camp in Austria, for GB judo stars enjoying a hard start to the Commonwealth year.

Two athletes linked to Shropshire are in action at the camp in the shape of Sarah Adlington and Gemma Howell.

Over 78kg athlete Sarah Adlington who trains in Scotland has been selected for the Paris Grand Slam, Rome European Open and the Dusseldorf Grand Prix.

Commenting on the camp she said: “It’s a really good camp with lots of players in category to practice with which I don’t get back in Britain, combining this with weights for the next week will be a good start to the year and build up to the up coming tournaments I have been selected for.”

London 2012 Olympian Gemma Howell took part in the first day of camp before receiving news that she will be in need of another operation on her knee, following the results of a scan that was taken after December’s British Championships. This means that despite initially being selected Howell will be unable to compete at the Paris Grand Slam, Rome European Open and Dusseldorf Grand Prix.

Since making her comeback at last October’s European Open for women, where she won a bronze medal, she had been making great progress. In fact she ended last year as British Champion of the -63kg category.

Gemma Howell at the 2013 British Championships, where she won gold

Team GB women’s lead coach Kate Howey hopes Howell will be fighting-fit in time for May’s Olympic qualification period.

Kate Howey said: “Gemma has to have another operation on her knee and will be out for three months, so there will be no competitions for her until the middle of the year. It is a bit of a blow but she should be back for the start of the qualification period.”

Howell said: “The camp is really busy so I’m gutted to not be able to do it, I’m relieved to finally find out what’s wrong with my knee but sad it means I’ll be out of competition for another three months. Meanwhile, Kelly Edwards (-52kg) will be taking part in the Warsaw European Open for women in Poland on the weekend of 1-2 March. “We will see what happens, what medals and what points we pick up.”

Words by Donna Richardson.