Euan Burton will use this weekend’s European Open at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena as a yardstick for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
The Edinburgh judoka has stepped up from under-81kg to under-100kg in recent weeks and winning last month’s European Cup in Serbia, at the age of 34, has focused his mind.
“It’s put it in my head that I could win a medal for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games. Now it’s decision time,” he said.
“It’s whether the team feel I can, whether I feel I want to focus more of my time on training for it. I’m training now but I’m not spending any real time on it.”
“The difference is that I weigh 90 kilos and the guys I am fighting weigh 105 kilos.
“I’ve always fought against bigger and heavier guys in practice and sparring but a competition is a whole different kettle of fish.
“I don’t think I went into the European Cup expecting to win it, but it’s been a long time since I entered any tournament not thinking I could win it.
“I thought I could have won the Olympics but that wasn’t to be. But every event I’ve gone into over the last four or five years, I’ve known I had the capability to win it.
“As long as I do the things I’m meant to do properly and have a good day, I could win it.
“Winning in Serbia has made me think that I can win the event at the Commonwealth Games but just because you can win something, doesn’t mean you will.
“I’d fought two weekends before that in Slovakia and finished fifth and that was the first time I’d dipped my toe in the water at that weight.
“It’s strange because I’m eating and drinking going into the weighing room whereas before I wasn’t eating or drinking anything for two days before the weigh-in!
“To fight at 100 kilos, you have to be above 90 kilos, so I’m having to put on weight.”
Burton’s priority remains coaching – he is assistant national high performance coach – but his late decision to compete in Glasgow this weekend is not insignificant.
There are seven men’s places in the Scotland team for the Commonwealth Games and Burton is currently in line to secure one of them, but there are another six months of qualification left and he could still be edged out.
“I had to fight the events to hit the minimum standard, even more so being a coach of the team where you have to be above any queries or criticisms if you are selected ahead of another athlete,” Burton said.
“So I feel I have to qualify above and beyond what other people have to do or at least to the same extent.
“We can have up to two in each weight category and it’ll be based on ranking but also down to the head coach and the selection panel – which I’m not part of!
“The Commonwealth Games are important for Judo Scotland as it’s the first we’ve been involved in for 12 years. And who knows when the next one will be? So we want to make the most of this opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Scottish heavyweight Chris Sherrington will face stiff competition at this weekend’s European Open as he continues his comeback after shoulder surgery.
The Olympian will face a top-class draw which includes Oceanic champion and World Cup bronze medallist Jake Andrewartha, one of eight Australians competing in the event.
The competition has attracted 96 judoka from 23 countries, including 2008 Olympic silver medallist and former European champion Ludwig Paischer from Austria in the under-60kg event.
Scotland will be well represented at the Emirates Arena with, in addition to Burton and Sherrington, Glasgow 2014 hopefuls Matthew Purssey and James Austin also competing.