Oates helps Paralympic preparation

IF TEAM GB’S judokas get among the medals at the Paralympic Games, Kumo Judo Club and Norfolk Olympian Colin Oates will have played their part in history.

While his own London 2012 journey may have ended, the past two weeks have seen the North Lopham star and fellow Kumo Judo Club member Jonathan Drane helping the visually impaired men’s team prepare for the biggest competition of their lives.

And having seen first hand what they can do training with them at the high performance centre shared between the Olympic and Paralympic squads in Dartford, Oates is predicting they could be on for five medals.

“The Paralympic team have been based at Dartford for the last three or four years and I have been working with them for that period,” said Oates, who shares the same coach, Jean Paul Bell, as the Paralympic squad and finished seventh at the Olympics in the under-66kg category. “In the build up (to the Olympics) there were a couple of guys I had been working with through my build-up and I had already said, because of their help, as soon as I got out of the Olympic Village I would come over and help them.”

Double world and European champion Ben Quilter has been Oates’ training partner for the last three years and will fight in the under-60kg competition looking for his first Paralympic medal after coming fifth in Beijing.

Oates has also been helping prepare one of two sets of Team GB judo brothers, Dan and Mark Powell, the later of whom Drane will be warming up during the competition itself as his training partner, by offering them coaching and recounting his experiences to them.

“Ben has got a great chance of a podium place and the other two are not as experienced as Ben but have had their best results this year — one won bronze and the other fifth place,” said Oates, who was asked to give his thoughts on Gemma Gibbons’ run to an Olympic silver medal on BBC Radio Five Live as the action unfolded in the ExCeL Arena, where he had been as a spectator.

He added: “The 90kg boy (Sam Ingram) has got a really good chance and the team as a whole has the potential for four to five medals.”

Having secured tickets, Oates will be in the ExCeL Arena from Thursday for the first of three days of judo Paralympics action from Thursday.