Buchanan bounces to bronze again 10 years later in Borås

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

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

Buchanan’s journey to bronze involved beating the eventual second bronze medallist Victor Leboedec of France by ippon and then getting ahead with a strangle for ippon over Gabriel Sabatino of Argentina to win the second contest.

However, he then lost by ippon to Albert Oguzov of Russia before coming back to win a tight contest over Philip Graf of Germany by a yuko during golden score. Until this point, both were equal on shidos.

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.”

Prior to this, the Scottish judoka, who was also British Judo Team Captain at Sydney and only one of three Scotsmen to gain a world title, has been retired from competitive sport for the past ten years. In this time he embraced a career in coaching with Sportif Judo and later as Judo Scotland National Development coach.

His road back into competition involved fighting at -66kg during the Kent International where he also won bronze and also a competition for the Eastern area as he considered his route back towards, what will be, his second Commonwealth Games attempt. He is now concentrating on point scoring at various European Cups with his next one being Malaga, which he will also be a self-funding candidate.

He said: “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.

“My overwhelming emotion was relief that my body can still allow me to compete at this level. When I returned I couldn’t believe the speed of the athletes and how things have changed since I have been out of it, but I have shown that I can still do it.”

At Borås, his third competition since his comeback in Bratislava in September, he showed he still has what it takes.

At this event his matside coach was Euan Burton, who like Buchanan, has already started his campaign to win a place at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Interestingly, this lightweight judoka’s campaign and life events actually parallel those of Scottish judoka Olympian Euan Burton (-100kg) in more ways than one.

Both met when they started at the same dojo, Sportif Judo Club, under the guidance of Peter Gardiner, when Buchanan was nine and Burton was seven – they even started on the very same day.

Buchanan met his wife Claire through judo, who won silver at the Commonwealth Games Championships in Manchester 2002 at -48kg under her maiden name of Lynch.

If selected for the Games, his second Commonwealth appearance, John could follow in the footsteps of his wife Claire Buchanan (nee Lynch).

Fellow Olympian Burton, who competed at both Beijing and London 2012, earlier this year wed Olympic silver medallist Gemma Gibbons.

Now both Buchanan and Burton are aiming for the Commonwealth Games too at opposite ends of the weight scale.

Meanwhile, 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.