Michael Bailey , London Olympics correspondent
Friday, July 13, 2012
Diss judoka Colin Oates will make his Olympics debut in London this month – but don’t expect simply taking part in the experience to be enough for him.
The 29-year-old North Lopham European bronze medallist will see his 2012 Olympics boil down to one, intense day of competition on Sunday, July 29 as he bids for a medal in the under 66kg category at London’s Excel Arena.
And while picking up their kits and competing in front of a bumper, partisan support will already represent a degree of success for every member of Team GB, Oates is clear where his focus sits.
“That’s the point – I’m not really happy with just competing; I would like a medal and I have always targeted that,” beamed Oates.
“The most important thing really is to take it stage by stage. So first of all, get to the final block which will guarantee you a placing of seventh or above. And once I get there, then I can say ‘right, now I need to be looking to get among the medals’.
“All the work is done now. It’s really fine turning. The work has been done for the last four years and especially over the last six months to get ready for these Games, so it’s just a case of getting your head down and trying to get the result on the day.
“It’s small steps first, even though it’s all one day – still trying to target the steps on the day and the most important thing will be the first two or three matches.”
Having learnt his judo trade from the age of 12 at the Kumo Judo Club in Lopham run by his father Howard, years of work will culminate in nine hours of competition for Oates, who tuned up for the Games with bronze at the European Cup meeting in Prague last month.
And as well as form, the event provided the perfect chance to shake off a training injury scare from a few weeks earlier.
“That was the most important thing really, psychologically really,” said Oates. “It was the first return after the shoulder injury – I picked up an avulsion fracture my shoulder a few weeks back and it’s the first competition back and the last one before the games.
“So it was quite important to make sure I got the fights and felt fresh and felt good, which was what happened. So it is a good feeling going into the games. The injury sounds horrendous but it wasn’t that bad because it was non-displaced, so it hadn’t moved and stayed where it was. I just couldn’t afford for it to recur.”
With British Judo in crisis last year following their medal failures at last year’s World Championships – off the back of fruitless Olympic campaigns in Athens and Beijing – the appointment of former Romanian world champion Daniel Lascau as Team GB performance director has helped focus and fine-tune the team’s target of picking up a medal in London.
And with a partisan crowd all on the side of the home fighters, that extra bit of performance – or crucial call from the judges – may just fall GB’s way.
“The atmosphere is going to be amazing,” added Oates. “I’m certainly hoping it’s going to be the X-factor that could give us an extra five or 10pc and push us when we’re not feeling the freshest or sharpest, and maybe that will get us through to the final placings and gets us a medal.
“Having the finals and the crowds cheering against you and you’ve got potentially 8,000 people cheering you on and putting it in your favour when scores are going up or when there’s a penalty situation, it’s definitely going to help because everyone is human at the end of the day.
“That can sway opinions and sway how the judges view what’s going on, so it’s definitely got the chance to give us a helping hand.”