Euan Burton gets ready to fight for a medal

Multiple World and European medal-winning judoka Euan Burtonis getting ready to fight for a meadal at the Commonwealth Games. Pic: SNS Group
Multiple World and European medal-winning judoka Euan Burtonis getting ready to fight for a meadal at the Commonwealth Games. Pic: SNS Group
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Edinburgh judo star Sally Conway is looking to continue Scotland’s success on the second day of the Commonwealth Games following a double gold for sisters Kimberley and Louise Renicks in Glasgow.

Burton came out of retirement when the opportunity presented itself to fight for Scotland in Glasgow, the 35-year-old coach now having moved up to the under-100kgs class.

Sally Conway will be going for gold in the Commonwealth Games Judo at the SECC in Glasgow today. Pic: contributed

Sally Conway will be going for gold in the Commonwealth Games Judo at the SECC in Glasgow today. Pic: contributed

Twice a former World Championship bronze medallist and once ranked in the top four at half-middleweight, Edinburgh fighter Burton has just about seen and done it all on the International Judo Federation circuit.

Burton, who suffered a hugely disappointing early exit from the London Olympics, intends to call on all of those skills to help him progress towards the medal fights on Saturday night.

“Moving up the weights is a natural progression, because I had not done that much competing in the first 14 months since the Olympic Games,” Burton told Press Association Sport.

“I did try to put a little bit more weight on when I started to fight at 100kgs, but it has actually been more a case of being able to eat whatever I want and being comfortable at the weight category.

“They are a lot bigger and heavier, and a lot more difficult to move, and I am giving away a lot of weight to a lot of them.

“That is something I have to get used to, because I was quite a big, imposing middleweight and I am now quite a small unimposing heavyweight, so I have to try to use something a bit different, using my judo technique, a bit of conditioning, all the guile I have developed over 20 years in judo to try to make sure I get past the big guys.”

Burton feels it has not been too testing switching back into a competitive mode having embarked on a coaching career to develop the next crop of British Olympians.

“The high-performance coaching was something I was relatively new to after the (London 2012) Games, but I have always been keeping my hand in by doing a bit of training,” he said.

“I seem to have fitted back into the team really well, so it is now just all about making sure all of us can put in our best performance in Glasgow.”

Judo is making a first appearance in the Commonwealth Games since 2002, where Graeme Randall won under-80kgs gold for Scotland.

As such, it will be something of a novelty for the Team GB squad to be fighting for their individual home nations.

“I am immensely proud of competing for Scotland and for Great Britain,” said Burton, who was clearly touched as he led Scotland around a packed Celtic Park on Wednesday evening.

“You go out there and try to do a job for the team you are selected to represent, whether that is with the Union Jack flying above you on the podium or the Saltire. It is just a massive honour to be able to represent your country.”

Following London 2012, Burton married long-term girlfriend Gemma Gibbons, who had won silver to secure a first British Olympic judo medal since Sydney.

The couple will be on opposite teams in Glasgow, where Gibbons fights at under-73kgs for England also on Saturday.

“We both want each other to win, so with no Scottish fighter in her category, I can wholeheartedly support Gemma,” he said.

“We have always fought for Great Britain together, and now we are fighting for separate teams, but it will be an interesting dynamic and a unique opportunity for us.

“Hopefully we can put a couple of medals on the mantelpiece back home for both Scotland and England.”

Burton is confident Gibbons can overcome the injury setbacks which have hampered her progress since the Olympics.

He said: “Getting her back to full fitness is the most important thing.

“She is not quite there yet, but these series of events will help her do that and I am sure by the time we get to Rio she will be ready to give a performance which will give her a chance to be standing on the top of the rostrum.”

There was earlier disappointment for home favourite Sally Conway, who lost her semi-final.

All of Scotland’s six fighters claimed a medal on Thursday, which was a first in the history of the Games, with sisters Kimberley and Louise Renicks both claiming gold to the delight of Glasgow.

Edinburgh fighter Conway, born in Bristol, was expecting to contest for gold at under-70kgs, having climbed into the world’s top six.

However, it was England’s Megan Fletcher who progressed through to the final against Moira de Villiers of New Zealand. The Pinewood Judo Club fighter, her face bandaged following a nose injury, recorded a golden score win with a quick counter throw to leave Hall 3 in stunned silence.

Conway must now pick herself up for the bronze match against Sunibala Huidrom of India.