Judoh! Despite 7.5m funding only one of our eight Brits has any success
22:34 GMT, 31 July 2012
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British Judo Association chairman Densign White has blasted the country’s flops for failing to make the sacrifices needed to achieve Olympic success in the sport.
Only one of the eight British judokas who have competed in London so far has managed to register a win, despite the 7.5million of funding judo has received over a four-year period and its 5m training centre in Dartford.
White, who competed at three Olympics between 1984 and 1992, said the entire British judo squad only had 28,000 to prepare for the 1988 Games in Seoul and criticised the current team for not maximising their ‘four-year window’ of opportunity.
All over: Gemma Howell is disqualified
How British interest hit the mat
Our only success was Colin Oates, who finished equal seventh with three wins. The rest of the team didn’t compete for very long…
Ashley McKenzie (Men’s under 60kg) — 4min 10sec.
Kelly Edwards (Women’s under 48) — 3min 2sec.
Sophie Cox (Women’s under 52kg) — 5min 0sec.
Colin Oates (Men’s under 66kg, right) — 21min 36sec.
Sarah Clark (Women’s under 57kg) — 5min 23sec.
Daniel Williams (Men’s under 73kg) — 4min 9sec.
Gemma Howell (Women’s under 63kg) — 4min 31sec.
Euan Burton (Men’s under 81kg) — 1min 45sec.
TOTAL = 49 minutes and 40 seconds
Gemma Howell and Euan Burton both lost on Tuesday, with 33-year-old Burton dissolving into tears during a television interview and admitting he had ‘let everyone down’.
Colin Oates, 29, finished equal seventh in the men’s -66kg category but is currently the only fighter to have met UK Sport’s target of 13 quarter-final places.
Great Britain have not achieved an Olympic judo medal since Kate Howey, Howell’s coach, won silver in the -70kg category in Sydney in 2000.
They also failed to get on the podium at last year’s World Championships, prompting the sacking of three members of the sport’s elite coaching staff.
White, who is married to Olympic javelin gold medallist Tessa Sanderson, believes British judokas must relocate to Dartford and ridiculed athletes who put university courses before training.
He said: ‘I understand if an athlete is
33 or 34 it is difficult for them to relocate and disrupt their whole
life — but if you want to be an Olympic champion, then I am sorry, that
is what you have to do. You have to make sacrifices.
Down and out: Euan Banks reacts after losing to Canada's Antonie Valois-Fortier
‘I made sacrifices when I was an athlete, and there was not half the money we had now. We had nothing, we were on the dole and were training full time. You hear all these excuses — this one has a university course to finish, this one has that problem. It is just excuses. You have one chance in life to be at this level, you only have a four-year window to be the most successful you can be.’
Burton, who came seventh in Beijing four years ago, earned a bye to the second round but was beaten by ippon by Canadian Antoine Valois-Fortier in the men’s -81kg.
His Olympic challenge lasted just one minute and 45 seconds — a desperately disappointing display for the Scot, whose family had paid 300 each for tickets to come and support him.
Done and dusted: Antoine Valois-Fortier of Canada celebrates defeating Burton
Burton said: ‘I feel like I’ve let my family down, my coaches, everybody I’ve ever trained with and my mum, dad and brother. I came in feeling I could win the tournament and that I was in the best shape of my life. It’s probably the end of my Olympic career.’
Howell, 22, faced world and European champion Gevrise Emane of France in her -63kg fight and was disqualified on her Olympic debut.
Howell said: ‘I am completely gutted. I did not come here to fight hard, I came here to win it, so I did not do what I wanted to.
‘What makes being an Olympic champion in judo so special is that you do only get one chance every four years. Rio (which will host the 2016 Games) will be the next big thing for me now.’