North Lopham judoka Colin Oates prepares for Rio Olympics with European Championships silver medal

Colin Oates has won a European silver medal.

Colin Oates has won a European silver medal. - Credit: Archant

Colin Oates gave himself an ideal springboard to Olympic success at the European Championship on Thursday night.

The 32-year-old from North Lopham, near Diss, claimed a coveted silver medal in the Russian city of Kazan.

And having hoped for improved form heading into this summer's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the Norfolk player is now pushing for a seeding spot after delivering his best ever performance – topping the European bronze he won in 2011.

'I've put in good performances since London but haven't taken medals or a final placing,' said Oates, who narrowly missed out on the medal matches at London 2012 by finishing seventh.

'My last two or three World Championships on the bounce I've managed to get to the last 16 and then fallen at that hurdle, which is just before the medal matches. And my Europeans have been very similar. Last time around I lost just before the quarters, and the time before.

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'So that was what I was looking for at these Europeans. A medal gives me an outside chance of a seeding spot for Rio, which isn't fully out of my grasp yet.'

Competing in the under-66kg division, Oates's day of competition was unhalted as he went on to overcome Italy's Fabio Basile in the quarter-finals, and Adrian Gomboc to earn a place in the final against Vazha Margvelashvili. The Georgian won by ippon, meaning Oates missed out on becoming the first Brit to bring home a European gold since 2006.

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But Oates, now a certainty for Rio, will head to Brazil in the best possible form. He added: 'I know if I can get into the position, I can produce medal-winning performances.'

• Follow Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey

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