Villagers in North Lopham toast judo star Colin Oates’ Commonwealth Games gold
11:31 27 July 2014
Delighted villagers raised a toast to judoka Colin Oates yesterday following his gold medal success at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
The 31-year-old martial arts expert, from North Lopham, erased the disappointment of finishing seventh at London 2012, as he secured four confident wins, firstly beating a lowly ranked Malaysian rival, then beating India’s Manjeet Nandal, James Millar from Scotland and Cyprus judoka Andreas Krassas.
His family, including parents Denise and Howard, live in King’s Head Lane in the village and run a judo club, while sister Vicky works at the King’s Head pub.
Julie Crossley, clerk of North Lopham Parish Council, said: “I think he is a great role model for youngsters. They can see what can be achieved through hard work.
“As far as the council’s concerned, we are really pleased that he has done so well.”
Parish councillor Lesley Bird added: “We are all very proud of him. It is a great achievement. It has put North Lopham on the map really, hasn’t it?”
Robert Carley, postmaster at North Lopham, said: “It is brillant. I heard about it in the pub when somebody said he had won gold.”
Resident Mark Sneath said his stepdaughter Chelsea Duncan, 13, used to attend judo classes run by the Oates family in the village.
He added: “I heard North Lopham mentioned on the local radio and I thought I had never heard the village mentioned on the radio before.
“His success is especially great in a sport like judo because it is a really tough sport, like all martial arts and you have to be very dedicated.”
George and Angie Estcourt, publicans at the King’s Head, know Mr Oates well as he is a regular visitor.
Following London 2012, Mr Oates helped with a barbecue at the pub to welcome him home and the publicans said they were hoping to hold another barbecue to celebrate his Commonwealth success, though this may depend on his busy schedule with the judo World Championships set to take place next month at Chelyabinsk in Russia.
Mrs Estcourt said: “He is a really nice, really friendly kind of guy. He is a very down-to-earth person who helps his dad with running the judo club. He is just a young family man.”
She said the pub recently held a vintage car meeting and many visitors were asking how Mr Oates was getting on, adding there was a lot of interest in how he was doing even among people from outside the village.
She added: “I just think it is absolutely amazing because when you watch the Olympics or Commonwealth Games you never those who are competing, so it is a real privilege to know one of the athletes.
“We thought he would do really well, but it is still really good that he has achieved this success.”
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