Judo: Euan Burton wins European Open 100kg title

Euan Burton was presented with gold by his wife.  Picture: SNS
Euan Burton was presented with gold by his wife. Picture: SNS
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The lure of Glasgow 2014 could not be stronger for Euan Burton after he won the European Open 100kg title at the Emirates Arena yesterday.

The Edinburgh judoka was uncertain whether he would compete at the Commonwealth Games after the disappointment of London 2012 but the hunger is back. Burton has had to step up two weight categories and, after returning to international competition recently at Under-100kg level, he has now won two gold medals and had a fifth place.

This was special. He beat Great Britain team-mate and World Junior medallist Ben Fletcher, from Wokingham, with a choke for ippon in the final and was presented with his gold medal by his wife and London 2012 silver medallist Gemma Gibbons, who was part of the official presentation party.

Burton’s triumph followed hard on the heels of his triumph at last month’s European Cup in Belgrade – where he was the second-oldest judoka to take a title – and the significance of the event being in Glasgow. 
“This is a level above the two European Cups I’ve fought in recently,” Burton said, “It’s nice to do it in Glasgow – if I do make it here next year, it’s good experience to have under my belt.

“There’s a bit more pressure fighting here. I’m still focusing on coaching more than fighting but, when you walk out into the stadium, no-one cares. You have to win.

“I’ve fought Ben a few times in training but it’s been more of a fun practice as he’s been a couple of weights above me.

“It was a little bit embarrassing when Gemma presented me with the medal but she told me that they made her do it! She’s not the type who would be that desperate to present me with a medal. It was just a bit of fun.”

Burton won both of his pool matches, beating Andrew Jacobs (USA) and Jorge Fonseca (Portugal) and reached the final by ippon with a waza-ari throw over Australian Under-21 champion Elijah Shuumans.

Great Britain won five medals at the event, four of the medallists being part of the Judo Scotland training regime at Ratho.

Norfolk’s Colin Oates, who has recently moved north to join the set-up, won gold at Under-66kg level.

He beat Belgium’s Jesper Lefevre by ippon in Saturday’s final to take the title and set the standard for the GB team.

James Austin, who also hopes to compete for Scotland at Glasgow 2014, had to be content with seventh place in the same weight category after being thrown for ippon by Fonseca in the repechage. There was a bronze for Scotland’s Matt Purssey in the Under-90kg event, though.

He lost to Italian Giuliano Loporchio in the semi-finals of the Under-90kg event to face GB team-mate Michael Horley for bronze.

Purssey won the contest with 50 seconds left with waza-ari throw to take his medal.

In the heavyweight class, Edinburgh’s Chris Sherrington lost his bronze medal contest to Jan Pinta (Czech Republic) by an ippon arm-lock with three minutes remaining. The Edinburgh player, who lost to lost to Pierre Alexandre Robin (France) in his pool, finished fifth.

On Saturday, Edinburgh’s Patrick Dawson missed out on a semi-final place in the Under-73kg when he lost to eventual winner, Italian Marco Maddaloni. Dawson had to settle for seventh place overall after losing in the repechage to Israel’s Tomer Zakheim by ippon. He suffered an injury to his left eye early in the contest but refused to use it as an excuse.

“The injury didn’t really affect me but it’s a bit disappointing to lose,” Dawson said afterwards, “It’s annoying because I’ve 
beaten him twice in the past.”