British Judo’s low ebb can come to an end at London Olympics
ÃÂ© mike varey 2007
North Lopham judoka Colin Oates admitted British Judo needs London Olympics success to show it is back after a tumultuous period.
New performance director Daniel Lascau stepped into the breach 10 months ago to get the home fighters back on track after the run of poor international competitions and what others saw as questionable leadership left the sport’s 2012 aims on the brink.
Judo has seen Brits produce in the past – an unexpected quartet of medallists left the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, when Team GB were written off as also rans.
The expectations are similar in London: one medal will more than satisfy the target setters.
And Oates acknowledged any success would be welcome.
“We need that success, we need some kind of inspiration,” said Oates. “There are a lot of tough draws for our guys. Some have got number one seeds, some have got really tough Japanese fighters. So there is this tough situation to get through, but if you can beat those guys it opens it up and it’s those moments you’ve got to count on for a medal for us.
“We really need it this time and the team is very determined I think.”
Coach Kate Howey – and GB’s only medallist in four Olympics with her silver in Sydney – sees things similarly.
“Everyone knows it’s been a rocky road the past couple of years for judo,” she said. “But the 10 months since Mr Lascau has come in it’s been very different and people have been given different opportunities.
“So we are together as a team now, which in previous Olympics we possibly weren’t. We are one team now and we are all pulling in the same direction and all behind each other. That goes for the coaches and the players.
“Its a really good place to be. I’ve been in and around it for a long time and it’s one of the best teams I’ve seen and probably the happiest.”
As for Oates’ own pursuit for a medal, Team GB judo chief Lascau is confident his man can deliver on his big day this Sunday.
“Before the Games, Colin had a small injury and could not perform in a few events, but he has been winning some fights by Ippon, which I am really pleased about from a technical point of view,” said the Romanian.
“We now have a fighter who is making his weight for the category five weeks before the Games.
“Hopefully he will get through his opening fight, and then could face the Mongolian in the second round, which will be a hard fight. This will be key for him, because the Mongolian is one of the top fighters in the world.
“If Colin can come through this, then he has a good chance to arrive in the second part of the competition.”