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France Looks for Fast Start with Douillet

July 20, 1996

ATLANTA (AP) _ France collected just eight gold medals in the 1992 Summer Olympics. Though not expected to improve significantly on that total this year, France was looking for a quick start with favored David Douillet going in the opening judo event today.

Douillet was the first non-Japenese athlete to capture both the heavyweight and open events at the World Judo Championships last year. He successfully defended the heavyweight title he first won in 1993.

The Olympic field also includes three former world champions _ Rafael Kubacki of Poland (1993), Sergei Kosorotov of Russia (1991) and Naoya Ogawa of Japan (1989) _ and defending Olympic champion David Khakhaleishvili of the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

At 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, Douillet is recognizable throughout France. He is one of the country’s more popular athletes, based on his personality and accessibility in a country where champions are sometimes aloof and distant.

Damon Keeve, a 1992 Olympian from San Francisco, has a tough draw against Belarus’ Rouslam Charapov _ one of eight competitors from the former Soviet Union in the 34-man draw.

In the women’s heavyweight division, an early highlight is a first-round match between world champion Angelique Seriese of the Netherlands and 1993 world champion Johanna Hagn of Germany. Seriese defeated Hagn to win this year’s European championship.

Opening-round losers can’t win gold or silver medals but get to continue competing for bronze in their weight classes.

Colleen Rosenteel of Colorado Springs, Colo., faces Australian Heidi Burnett in the only first-round match in pool B. The other seven competitors get byes.

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