Oates aims for Euro judo medal

JudoKA Colin Oates admits it's win or bust at the European Championships - but insists he'll enter the sudden-death environment all guns blazing in Austria.

JudoKA Colin Oates admits it's win or bust at the European Championships - but insists he'll enter the sudden-death environment all guns blazing in Austria.

The North Lopham fighter is pinning his hopes on winning a medal in Austria during the championships which run from today to Sunday.

Unlike at the Beijing Olympics, where Great Britain failed to gain a single gong, the repechage will only come into effect in round two - leaving competitors who fall at the first hurdle to pack their bags and head home, writes David Jordan (Sportsbeat).

Oates, who missed out on a place at the Games, took the rule changes in his stride as he claimed bronze at the Prague World Cup in February.

And with everything resting on the opening bout, he has vowed to prove the early bird catches the worm in Vienna. 'I know the first fight will be tough, it always is, and the aim is to get past that because the new rules are such that if you lose your first fight you are out,' said Oates.

'But get through that then if you lose your next fight there is a repechage and you keep your hopes of a medal alive. If you get to that quarter-final you get a second chance if you lose and if you win you really start to push on towards the final and fighting for bronze.

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'The focus has been on doing circuits that help you start fast, you have to be ready for the start of the tournament and really ready for that first fight. I start on the first day which is good because

I am straight into action and don't have to wait around.'

After claiming bronze in Prague in the under 66kg category two months ago, the 26-year-old insists he's happy to climb the podium one step at a time if it leads to him claiming top spot at London 2012.

'Last year I seemed to be consistently fifth and just outside the medals come the end of the year but this year I have already taken a fifth and a bronze and built even more consistency,' added Oates.

'And I believe now that is more important, I don't just want to have one big result and disappear and I believe going into 2012 the way to be successful is to be consistent.

'I have already sat down with Patrick the head coach of British Judo and we have a plan in place for the year and so far the results he has set out I have achieved.

'So I am following the programme in place - it said to medal at the World Cup and then move on and be placed at the European Championships and the World Championships. I have been to a few European Championships before and two world Championships as well so I have the experience. I am used to the pressure and the nerves and I feel like I will be able to perform at the right time having performed so consistently this year.'

Oates learnt his trade at the Kumo Judo Club, based at Lophams Village Hall, which is a member of the British Judo Association. He now trains at the renowned British Judo Performance Institute at Dartford.

Kumo Judo Club train at the Lophams Village Hall on Monday and Wednesday nights and also have a very successful girls' and women's session from 7-8pm on a Wednesday. Call Howard Oates on 01379 688258.

Visa is proud to be Presenting Partner of Team 2012, a team of 1,200 athletes across UK who are aiming to compete at London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Click on www.lifeflowsbetter.com for details.