Olympics 2016: European gold would secure Rio spot - Natalie Powell

Natalie Powell
Natalie Powell is a member of Irfon Judo club in Powys

Wales' Natalie Powell believes winning European judo gold next month would earn selection for the Rio Olympics.

Powell won bronze at the Tbilisi Judo Grand Prix, but fell to ninth in the world rankings, one spot below automatic selection.

The European Championships are in Kazan, Russia from 21-24 April, with Powell hoping to beat Gemma Gibbons to secure Great Britain's -78kg place.

"That would definitely secure my spot if I won the Europeans," said Powell.

"I don't think there's any catching me after that point."

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England's Gibbons won silver at the 2012 London Olympics and Powell beat her to win the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medal.

Powell, 25, is four places above 29-year-old Gibbons in the world rankings after beating European junior champion Madeleine Malonga of France to take third place in Tbilisi.

"I'm pleased with the medal because it means I've got a few more points towards qualification, but it wasn't the best day of fighting for me," Powell told BBC Radio Wales.

"I really struggled in most of my fights. I'd just come off the end of a really concentrated training block and gone straight into competition.

"I was quite tired to be honest, but I was really pleased to be able to pull out a result when I was physically probably not in the best shape that I could have been."

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