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Judo: Olympic hopeful reaches European semis

Switzerland's Sergej Ashwanden has reached the semifinals of the European Judo Championships in Wroclaw, Poland after cruising through his qualifying fights with no defeats.

Aschwanden, who competes at the under 81 kilogram division, is the only Swiss Judoist to have already secured his place for September's Olympic Games. The 25-year-old worked tactically throughout his three fights, comfortably beating Matti Lattu of Finland, Dutchman Maartens Arens and Britain's Lukas Preston.

Aschwanden now has two chances at winning a medal. His first comes in Saturday's semi-final against Russia's Alexej Scherchenej. Switzerland has not won a medal at the European Championships since 1992, when Olivier Schaffter won silver in the old 78 kilo category.

Six other Swiss contestants are in Wroclaw, hoping to join Aschwanden in qualifying for Sydney 2000. Their chances are mixed though. Isabelle Schmutz, Switzerland's only Judo entrant at the Atlanta Olympics, is well-placed for a repeat performance. David Moret and Lena Göldi, meanwhile, must finish in the top five.

Even harder demands must be met by Gennadi Kescheraschwili and Isabelle Schmutz's brother, Olivier, who must both win their categories if they are to book their place at the summer games.

swissinfo with agencies

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