Great Britain enjoyed medal success as Euan Burton (-100kg) rushed to gold during the European Cup in Belgrade. Michael Horley (-90kg) also scooped silver while Jodie Myers (+78kg) and Chloe Jackson (-52kg) took bronze in the Serbian capital last weekend (26 to 27 September).
Burton in particular, showed fine form ahead of Glasgow 2014, which he hopes to be selected for, fighting two weights above his usual -81kg at -100kg.
He has now consistently gained medals at this level in the -81kg, -90kg and -100kg categories.
His path to gold included claiming an early victory over home judoka Goran Prgonjic, followed by an ippon over Andraz Spiler of Slovenia and Stefan Jurisic of Serbia, finishing with a win by yuko over Miroslav Dzur of Slovakia.
Burton is now the second oldest European Cup winner in history, the eldest being Dutchman Mark Huizinga who won the German Open in 2008 at the age of 34 years coincidentally against Burton! Now Burton is that very same age.
“I am testing out how I can do at -100kg ahead of the Commonwealths,” he said. It has been tough as I only weigh -89 to 90kg, but we have good -90kg guys and I wouldn’t be giving my job the focus it deserves if I tried to make weight for -81kg.”
Since his London 2012 disappointment, Burton has been concentrating on coaching. In fact, during this journey he wore two hats as coach and player.
“I was coaching on the trip but as we only had lightweights at the event and they fought on Saturday I had the chance to compete on the Sunday as a heavyweight,” he said.
“Otherwise, I would have focussed on coaching those players and not fought.”
He added: “I probably won’t be fighting at the European Open in Glasgow. After the Olympics I told GB judo I was finished competing for GB at that level.
“The only reason for me fighting at -100kg is potentially to win a medal for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games. I will not be looking to fight any other competition at this category.”
Meanwhile, Horley, who has recently been selected for the Glasgow European Open, scooped silver medal too after scoring a two ippons against Dimitrije Vukotic of Montenegro and Zalan Ohat of Hungary.
He also won the third match after David Keriscs of Hungary was disqualified.
Horley said: “It was important for me to get a medal. I had some time off in August to recuperate after a busy competition period so I’ve been training like a demon to get fighting fit for this competition. I see it as great training for the Glasgow European Open in a few weeks time.”
Jackson’s path to bronze started out an early defeat by Andreja Leski of Slovenia, when despite a commanding start, she lost concentration and gave her opponent the chance to apply a strangle-hold for submission.
She turned it around in the second bout gaining an early score and then securing the win, having led by waza-ari then throwing Selma Sejdinovic of Bosnia-Herzegovina for ippon.
This placed Jackson in the bronze medal match which she won against fellow Brit Samantha Clark – who placed fifth. Clark was unable to match her bronze of last week in Tampere, Finland.
The result is a continuation of Jackson’s success at European level following her silver medal win in Malaga late last year.
Myers lost her first bout against Larisa Ceric of Bosnia-Herzegovina but bounced back to claim ippon over Alexandra Stan of Romania to claim the bronze within two fights.
Elsewhere, Carrie Thompson (-78kg) and Daniel Harvey (+100kg) finished in fifth place, while David Groom (-90kg) achieved a solid seventh.
Words by Donna Richardson. Photo courtesy of EJU.