Judo: Natalie Powell confident of world title challenge

Natalie Powell in action at the European Championships
Natalie Powell lost her European Championship bronze medal match with Slovenia's Anamari Velensek

Welsh judoka Natalie Powell says she is in good form going into the World Championships in Kazakhstan.

The 24-year-old Commonwealth Games gold medallist competes at -78kg on Friday.

Powell was beaten in a bronze medal match in the European Championships this year, but hopes to go one better.

"The Olympics, Worlds and Europeans are the three everyone aims for and I haven't got any of those medals yet, but hopefully this will be the one," she told BBC Sport.

Powell is part of a nine-athlete British team at the event that includes England's Gemma Gibbons, an Olympic silver-medallist in 2012.

Gibbons competes in the same weight division as Powell, but was beaten by the Welsh athlete in the Commonwealth Games final in 2014.

Britain's team
Kelly Edwards (-52kg)Gemma Gibbons (-78kg)
Nekoda Davis (-57kg)Ashley McKenzie (-60kg)
Alice Schlesinger (-63kg)Colin Oates (-66kg)
Sally Conway (-70kg)Ben Fletcher (-100kg)
Natalie Powell (-78kg)

Top-10 ranked Powell became the first Briton to reach a gold medal match in the World Judo Masters in May 2015.

"I had a silver in the Masters this year," she said.

"I nearly medalled in the Europeans so I'm there at the levels now so I'm hoping I can get really good result in the Worlds.

"I'm really excited, it's my third World Championship and I feel training this last year has been going really well."

Success in Kazakhstan would be a major step towards qualification for next year's Olympics in Rio.

"The first year of qualification is all done and dusted and I had a really good year," she added.

"If I can replicate that now in the second year and keep up my performance hopefully I can get there and achieve what I want to achieve.

"We've got to keep in the top 14 so there's still all to play for basically, so hopefully just keep training like I'm doing, chipping away, and we'll get there."

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