KENDAL Judo Club’s Michael Horley moved a step closer to his Olympic dream by confirming his spot in the 27-man British Olympic Judo squad with a bronze medal at the British National Trials in Sheffield.

Horley, competing at the U90kg level, had been hampered by an ankle injury over the Christmas period, but sailed through his first three contests against Frazer Chamberlain, Sean Dineen and Theodore Spalding Mackintosh.

He then came up against an Olympic favourite Scotland's Euan Burton who had moved up a weight for this event. Although he lost the contest Horley came through the next round to win a bronze medal in the squad for London 2012.

Horley, 24, from Carlisle, first tried judo in his hometown aged nine, when his grandfather Harold Wilkinson persuaded him to go to the local club.

In 2010 Horley competed against world and Olympic medallists but admits he wasn’t quite ready for glory going into the world championships in Tokyo in October, but he bounced back in June last year when he claimed silver at a European Cup event in Slovenia.

With only one spot available in his category at the Olympics, Horley will be competing for selection against Matthew Purssey to represent Team GB in London, and the next few weeks will decide his fate, with competitions in Georgia, Austria and the Czech Republic and a training camp in Paris.

Head coach Mike Liptrot said: “We are doing it quietly, quietly, bit by bit, but I think if he can medal in one of his three competitions he will stand a very good chance of selection.”

Club mates Danny Harper and David Groom came up against each other in the first round of the U81kg event in Sheffield meaning they could not both progress to the medal fights.

In a fierce contest between the two Harper’s lack of match training due to injury was the only difference. Groom caught him with an inner thigh throw after three and a half minutes to win and then went on to beat Stephen Abberley.

Unfortunately though he was paired with Thomas Reed in the final and lost out on a penalty, but a silver medal was a good result. Harper secured fifth place with a strangle on the bell against Ryan Hunter.