VIDEO: Norfolk’s Colin Oates ready for his London Olympics day of destiny
ÃÂ© mike varey 2007
Norfolk judoka Colin Oates is ready for the proper action to finally get under way – with his one day of competition the route to medal glory.
Oates’ Olympics will be done and dusted by Sunday when he takes to the Excel Arena judo mats and bids to win Team GB’s second Olympic medal in 20 years.
And forget the first taste of an Olympic village or getting kitted out with the bags and goodies afforded to with a GB berth. For Oates, only one thing matters – and the sooner it arrives the better.
“It’s been like this since Monday,” said Oates. “We were getting the gear and a lot of people were really excited about that, and I do find it nice we get all the gear to wear and the bags, but I have always said to people I just want to get through that part. It wasn’t something I looked forward to. The day I look forward to is Sunday, the day I go to fight and the day I try to achieve.
“If someone said I wouldn’t get all this stuff but was going to perform well, I’d be really happy with that.
“I’m itching to fight. I have got a little bit of weight to lose but my weight is really good considering past tournaments; just a couple of kilos left, so I’m in a really good position and feel really good.”
Oates sat out Friday night’s opening ceremony to avoid disrupting preparations for his big day – an intense day requiring intense focus.
“Judo is one of those things where working with a psychologist can become quite handy,” said Oates. “One of the things I’ve always done is to plan my day in my head. It doesn’t start from when you fight, it starts from when you wake up.
“You plan making weight, what you’re going to do with your breakfast, how you are going to hydrate, even getting on the team bus and getting to the venue, the warm-up.
“Then there’s that moment before you come out when you wait in a little area, and you plan that moment: how you’re going to feel, think, so that when you come out it’s not all emotions all at once. You’ve worked through those and the game plan, and you’re out and ready to fight.”
Lisbon-born Australian Ivo dos Santos is first in the way, before a tough second round against Tsagaanbaatar Khashbaatar should the Mongolian make expected progress.
“It was going to be a tough draw whatever,” admitted Oates, as GB battle back from a tough couple of years in international competition.
“My first fight, the Australian boy, I’ve never fought him but I know a bit about him and trained with him, so I’m not as fearful of that one as maybe others. It’s judo so anything can happen, but I feel comfortable.
“The second fight, possibly against the current world number one – the Mongolian boy has been a world champion before and he’s a consistent fighter. So it’s a really tough one if I get there. Fingers crossed I get past the Australian, and then it will be game on from there.”
In fact, Oates feels taking on Khashbaatar early on could do him a favour or two: “He’s the number two seed, so getting past him could open up the draw. What’s really important to remember is he’s one of those where if you fought him later on in the day, the semis or quarter-finals, he would be on fire. He’d have got into the day, be heavy, fired up. Whereas fighting him earlier on, he might be a bit sluggish.
“His first fight isn’t really the toughest, so if he gets through that really quickly he might not be as sharp as later. If you’re going to catch him, the best time is to get him early.”
There is another thing Oates will have in his armoury no one else in the judo arena will be able to compete with – Nanny Kath Lewis.
“We’ve got a whole bunch of my close family coming down,” said Oates. “My nan, who’s 86 – she’s been excited for me for the last two years. She’s probably my biggest fan.
“She has been talking about it and you know what? She’s moving around and making sure she’s active enough so she can get here and watch.
“She will be proud either way, but it’s going to be a great day for her.”
Especially if she gets her chance of a picture: “Knowing my nan she will be telling people to get out of the way so she can see. If I get to the rostrum she will come down pushing photographers out of the way to get her own photo; that’s what happened last time.”