It has been over a year since the highs of competing at a home Commonwealth Games and Glasgow boy Andy Burns has his sights firmly set on making his mark at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Burns came away with a bronze medal from last year’s Commonwealth Games after defeating Australian Mark Anthony in the -90kg bronze medal contest and while many of the Scotland team got to enjoy the post-Games celebrations, for Burns there was no time to stop with Rio qualification firmly on his mind.
“I had to fly straight out, I didn’t get to go the closing ceremony or the parties. I went straight to a tournament in Miami, because Rio qualification is the most important thing.
“I would have loved to have celebrated Glasgow but I would be more content celebrating a win at Rio.”
However, the 30 year old will have an opportunity to compete in front of a home crowd once again at the Glasgow European Judo Open at the Emirates Arena on Saturday 10 October and with vital Rio qualification points on offer, Burns is looking forward to the support of the Glasgow crowd.
“If you look back at the Commonwealth Games and the support we had there in Glasgow, I have competed in front of bigger crowds but nothing as exciting, nothing as partisan as atmospheric as the Commonwealth Games were. To be back in Glasgow again will be incredible.”
The crowd at Glasgow will be treated to an impressive list of British talent including 2014 Commonwealth Games champions Ashley McKenzie (-60kg), Owen Livesey (-81kg) and Danny Williams (-73kg) and rising Junior stars Stuart McWatt (-81kg) and Connor Ireland (-73kg).
But Burns picks out his former training partner Ben Fletcher (-100kg) as one to watch in Glasgow next month.
The Team Bath judoka reached the third round on his debut at the World Judo Championships in Astana last month and came second to local favourite Euan Burton at the European Open in Glasgow two years ago.
“If I were you I would put your money on Ben Fletcher to do well. He’s an old training partner, we trained together in Bath and I’ve seen him progress from a 17-18 year old to where he is now being able to deal with the best guys in the world.”
With his current ranking at 48 and his Olympic qualification standing at 43, Burns knows that Glasgow will be a good opportunity to add to his 2015 medal haul, including silver at the European Open in Minsk and bronze at the San Salvador Pan American Open, and kick-start his qualification drive to Rio.
Yet the life of an athlete, especially those at the highest level, is one of constant pressure, something that Burns is all too aware of especially with rankings changing on a week by week basis.
“There is a lot of pressure, pressure that you put on yourself that you want to qualify for Rio.
“I guess it is a good and a bad thing, that the ranking list is continually changing, whether you’re in the to go group or not, dependent on what happens each weekend you drop in to qualification, you drop out of qualification, it’s nerve racking.”
Yet even with the Rio Olympics looming in the not too distant future, the Scottish athlete does have his eye on the future and including travelling with his fiancé, hopefully without his judogi in tow.
“My fiancé has been a Judo widow for the past eight years so will need to pencil in some time for her and potentially do some traveling.
“I have just completed my Master’s Degree in Strength and Conditioning and have been doing a bit of work with the Welsh Judo Association to give me a bit of experience in the industry before I finish my competitive career and think, now what? I have dappled a bit in strength and conditioning and matside coaching and quite enjoy that as well. But who knows?”
Tickets are on sale now for the Glasgow European Judo Open on Saturday 10 October. You could be in the crowd watching Andy compete alongside his fellow British competitors for as little as £2.50 – get yours here: http://bit.ly/Glasgow2015Tickets