COLIN Oates’ proud father and coach Howard Oates has paid tribute to the overwhelming support given to his son during his first Olympics.
The North Lopham and Diss-based Kumo Judo Club owner, who British number one at under-66kg Colin represents, described the cauldron of noise inside the ExCeL Centre on Sunday as unlike anything he has heard before.
And he said the family had received a raft of cards expressing their pride at Oates’ brave performance on the mat which saw him defeat Mongolian world number two Tsagaanbaatar Khashbaataar to reach the quarter-finals before exiting into the repechage, and eventually finishing seventh.
“I have never seen a place erupt like that and that is five minutes that will live with me until the day I die,” Howard said of the last 16 encounter with hot-favourite for a medal Khashbaataar. “I have never heard anything like it at a judo tournament and I have been to Paris three or four times and I really think the British public should be patted on the back for that.”
He added: “The support in North Lopham and Norfolk has been fantastic, absolutely fantastic, and the King’s Head (in North Lopham) has to be congratulated, not just for their support for Colin, but for judo in the village.
“They have always made donations to us and we are very proud of what they have achieved there.
“It is not just Colin they have supported but every five and six-year-old on that mat by providing us with crash mats. We have had so many cards, it is brilliant for a village in the middle of nowhere.”
Oates’ father said his son’s mammoth effort in the last 16 took too much out of him, which proved to be his downfall in the quarter-final, but applauded him for making the right choice in going on the attack in the sudden death stage with eventual winner Lasha Shavdatuashvilli, which saw him rolled into defeat.
“Like in every sport, you have to go for it and if he had of succeeded in pinning him everyone would have said it was the right choice but as it did not take him through everyone will say it was the wrong choice but he had to take it,” said Howard. “If you asked me the week before whether I would be happy with seventh place, I would have been ecstatic as we have come a long way – three years ago we did not medal at a tournament in Turin in Italy.
“Then we were third at the European Championships in April 2011, fifth at the world’s in Paris in August 2011 and seventh at the Olympics in 2012 – it could get better, that is what you aspire to but we are not a massive judo nation and I have to continue to emphasise that.”