Friday, July 25, 2014
Norfolk’s Colin Oates admitted he was a man under pressure coming into the Commonwealth Games – and he delivered in style on Thursday night.
Judoka Oates from North Lopham arrived in Glasgow as the world’s top ranked fighter in his under 66kg weight category.
And the 31-year old - the oldest member of Team England’s judo squad - admitted he was worried about letting the team down on the first day of competition.
However, the former European bronze medallist secured four confident wins, beating a lowly ranked Malaysia rival in his first fight before wins over India’s Manjeet Nandal, Scotland’s James Millar and Cyprus judoka Andreas Krassas.
And as he stood on the top step of the podium, while the St George’s flag was raised and Jerusalem played, memories of his disappointing seventh place at London 2012 drifted away.
Oates admitted his tactics weren’t the most exciting but you couldn’t deny they were effective.
“I came in as the favourite and it’s sometimes tough to deliver when all the pressure is on, so I’m very proud of myself and it’s a great day for me,” he said.
“I’ve come here with real confidence because training has been going well and recent results have been good.
“When I was seventh at the Olympics I was really disappointed because I wanted so much more and thought I was capable of delivering so much more. My expectations were high and after the Olympics my disappointment just kept grinding away at me.
“I’ve been driving on for two years now and it’s been the best two years of my career, so everything happens for a reason.”
However, there will be no time to celebrate for Oates as he leaves Glasgow and heads for Chelyabinsk in Russia’s Ural Mountains - venue of next month’s World Championships.
“I won’t get the chance to enjoy the full Commonwealth Games experience unfortunately because it’s back to training now and getting ready for the worlds,” he added.
“It will be another step up in level but I really think I can do it. I’ve been fifth in the worlds and my target is now to crack that podium because you’ve got to keep challenging yourself.
“I really want to see where I am against the best in the world now. That’s going to give me a great pointer on the work I need to do before Rio.”
• Commonwealth Games England (CGE) leads and manages the participation of the Team England at the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Youth Games. They work with sports, Sponsors and Sport England to support the development of athletes and their sports, and to achieve success at Games-time.