NORFOLK judoka Colin Oates may have left London 2012 without a medal but his pride was still very much intact after a credible seventh place finish in the men’s under-66kg category.
Following a first-round bye, Oates, 29, kicked things off with a defeat of Australian Ivo dos Santos before pulling off a shock victory over Mongolia’s world number two Tsagaanbaatar Khashbaatar.
But eventual gold medallist Lasha Shavdatuashvili halted the North Lopham resident’s progress in the quarter-final and there was to be no second chance of a bronze medal when Korea’s Cho Jun-Ho won their repechage by two yukos.
And despite having come within touching distance of a place on the podium, Oates admits his initial disappointment gave way to pride at his performance, especially against Khashbaatar.
“It was disappointing for me, I think I may have fought the best I’d ever fought today,” he said. “I think the Mongolian fighter I faced in the second round has been the most consistent and best fighter in my weight category over the last few years.
“He’s been world champion, won world bronze and been at the top of the rankings, so it was a really good win to get past him.
“But I felt the Georgian was my opportunity, because the Korean was always going to be very tough.
“But once I digest it I think a seventh place at the Olympic Games is a really great achievement for myself.”
His crowning glory came against the Mongolian in the last 16 when, with eight seconds left, he scored a winning yuko knockdown.
If that match went to the wire, his quarter-final went past it as Shavdatuashvili won with a golden score two minutes into extra-time, although Cho Jun-Ho proved too strong.
And Oates admits the backing of a partisan home crowd helped him punch way above his weight.
“The atmosphere has been phenomenal and I really hope it spurs on the rest of the guys and girls to take a medal because with that behind them we have great fights and as you’ve seen today upsets are there for the taking,” he said.
“In the fight against Shavdatuashvili I went for a big score, it was make or break and I got caught.
“I am disappointed because I got to the stage where I had given myself a chance to fight for a medal but I know I gave it everything.”
Lloyds TSB are a proud supporter of Team GB and proud partner of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Get closer to the Games at lloydstsb.com/london2012