Buchanan bounces back to bronze 10 years later in Borås

At the age of 37, Great Britain’s John Buchanan (-60kg) returned to action in Sweden and won a bronze medal at the 2013 European Cup for Seniors, which took place in Borås between 25 and 27 October.

This result comes 12 years after he won a World Championship bronze in Munich and exactly a decade since he last won a medal of the same colour in Borås at the Swedish Open.

Buchanan’s journey to bronze began by beating the eventual second bronze medallist Victor Leboedec of France by ippon.

He then faced Argentina’s Gabriel Sabatino and again won by ippon with his trademark “Buchanan” strangle, a move with which he won his World Championship bronze.

However, his hopes of gold or silver in this tournament ended when he lost by ippon to Albert Oguzov of Russia.

But he hit back to secure a bronze when he defeated Philip Graf of Germany by a yuko during a tight contest that went to golden score.

Speaking after the competition, Buchanan said: “I felt a lot sharper than I did in Bratislava and in truth I am quite relieved that I managed to gain a bronze.”

Buchanan, who went to the Sydney Olympics in 2000, is one of only four Scottish judoka to ever gain a judo world championship medal – an honour he holds alongside fellow bronze medallists Euan Burton, Joyce Heron and gold medallist Graeme Randall.

Prior to his latest comeback, Buchanan had been retired from competitive sport for the past 10 years.

In this time he embraced a career in coaching with Sportif Judo and later as JudoScotland’s National Development coach.

His main aim is to reach the Commonwealth Games in his native Scotland next year and, to help boost his chances, he is now concentrating on point-scoring at various European Cups with his next one being in Malaga, Spain, between 9 and 10 November.

He continued: “The main reason I want to fight in the Commonwealths is that it is taking place in Glasgow.

“It would be great to do it in front of a home crowd in my home country and this time competing for Scotland. If it was anywhere else I would not bother.

At Borås, his matside coach was fellow Scottish Judoka and Olympian Euan Burton, who like Buchanan, has already started his campaign to be in Glasgow next year.

Interestingly, Buchanan’s campaign and life events actually parallel those of Burton who has competed at -81kg, -90 and now-100kg, in more ways than one.

Both met when they joined the same dojo, Sportif Judo Club, under the guidance of Peter Gardiner. On the first day of the formation of that new club Buchanan was nine and Burton was seven.

Both went on to train on BJA performance programmes, Buchanan at Camberley and Euan at Edinburgh and then enjoyed successful judo careers. Later they went on to coaching and now both are targeting places in the Scottish team for Glasgow, albeit at opposite ends of the weight scale.

Like Burton, Buchanan met his wife Clare through judo.

Clare is also an accomplished judoka who won silver at the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002 at -48kg under her maiden name of Lynch.

Meanwhile, fellow Olympian Burton, who competed at both Beijing 2008 and London 2012, is now married to Olympic silver medallist Gemma Gibbons.

Liam Ashton-Farr (-66kg), Samuel Hall (-60kg) and Samantha Clark (-52kg) all finished in fifth place in Borås.

Frazer Chamberlain (-90kg), Connie Ramsay (-57kg), Kelly Edwards (-52kg) and Jodie Mullen (-63kg) all placed seventh.

Words by Donna Richardson, Photo by Molly Wallman, EJU.