The IBSA Judo European Championships will take place in Portugal ©IBSA

International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Judo World Cup gold medallist Sam Ingram has been named in the British visually impaired team for the European Judo Championships in Odivelas.

Competition in the Portuguese city is due to take place from November 25 to 30, with 30-year-old Ingram leading a four-strong British squad into the event which will act as the final qualifying event for next year's Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. 

Ingram has enjoyed a successful year having won gold in the under 90 kilogram event at the Hungary World Cup in February before winning silver at the IBSA World Games, which took place in South Korea’s capital city Seoul in May. 

As a result of his performances the Briton lies in third place in the world rankings heading into the European Championships, with the top nine male athletes at the close of the year securing berths at next year’s Paralympic Games.

Under 100kg competitor Chris Skelley, winner of a IBSA World Games bronze, is also on course to reach Rio as he occupies sixth position in the division’s rankings having been boosted by a gold at the Brazil Grand Prix.

Over 100kg judoka Jack Hodgson is also set to compete in Odivelas and remains on course for the Paralympics too as his current sixth placed ranking would prove enough to take him to the Games.

The 19-year-old will be hoping to build on his podium finishes at the IBSA World Games and the Brazil Grand Prix, where he claimed silver medals, while he also won bronze at the Hungary World Cup in Eger.

British judokas will be hoping to secure vital Rio 2016 qualification points at the Championships
British judokas will be hoping to secure vital Rio 2016 qualification points at the Championships ©British Judo

The British team for the Championships is completed by under 70kg judoka Natalie Greenhough, who will need to improve from her current world ranking of 11th to book her place at the Paralympics, with only the top five women in each event sealing an automatic berth.

“The team have prepared very well for the Europeans, including a couple of training camps in Belo Horizonte and Scotland,” said Ian Jones, British Judo Paralympic head coach.

“Each member of the team has medalled this year and we’re confident they can go out to Portugal and, if they put in the performances, come away with medals.

“Obviously having a guy like Sam Ingram in the team is great for experience but both Jack Hodgson and Chris Skelley medalled at the World Games in Korea earlier this year and Natalie Greenhough medalled at the Brazil Grand Prix so everybody has that medal winning experience.”

The Championships, hosted by the Portuguese Judo Federation and the Portuguese Sports Federation for Persons with Disabilities, follow on from the sport’s success at the European Games in Baku where visually impaired judo was the only Paralympic discipline on the programme.

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