A FEW years ago, aspiring judoka Patrick Dawson stood in assembly at George Watson’s College and, on his own admission, marvelled at the physique of former pupil Sir Chris Hoy who was making a visit back to his alma mater.
Referring to the multi-award winner, Dawson said: “I was totally struck by the size of Chris’s legs; they were absolutely massive, even though you’d probably expect that of a top cyclist.
“To learn of his successes, though, made me want to do the same in my own sport.”
Now 24 years old, Dawson, who only took up judo in 2006, is closer than he has ever been to competing in major Games having just taken the scalp of a reigning Olympic champion, Mansur Isaev, of Russia.
Victory for the 73kg Edinburgh Club player came earlier this week in the Buenos Aires Open after he, along with colleagues Graham Trinder, Connie Ramsay and Lisa Kearney, partly self-funded the trip to South America with help from Scottish Judo.
Overall, the trip was hailed an outstanding success with the Edinburgh Club quartet snapping up three golds and, for Trinder (60kg), a fifth place which was sufficient to move him up to 43rd in the world rankings.
To claim her gold, Connie Ramsay (57kg) fought her way past opponents from the US, Venezuela and Argentina to claim a new world ranking of 34th.
Lisa Kearney represented Ireland in the London Olympics, but moved up a category to fight at 52kg and she defeated a Brazilian rival to win the gold medal.
Pride of place, though, went to Dawson, from Portobello, after claiming the scalp of Isaev who was making a first tournament since topping the rostrum at the London Games.
Dawson, a student at Heriot-Watt University, said: “Because the win over Isaev came in my semi-final I had to take on board the advice of Kieran Ward, from Ireland, who was coaching us in South America.
“Kieran told me that if I didn’t follow up the win it would count for nothing.”
In claiming his first continental open gold medal, Dawson defeated an Argentinian rival to move to 40th in the world rankings.
He added: “The trip was part of the ITF International Judo World Cup and also took in an event in Uruguay.
“Although it was an expensive exercise it was well worth it and while I would have already achieved qualification for Glasgow 2014 if my success had come six weeks later I now know what I am capable of.
“Selectors will be choosing a team shortly for this summer’s European Championships and I have to hope I am in their plans. I might have been late coming to judo, but I’m sure that has made me all the hungrier to take any opportunity that comes my way.”