Doyen of judo George Kerr backs Patrick Dawson for Rio medal

George Kerr is proud of the Scottish judokas who won medals at the Commonwealth Games

George Kerr is proud of the Scottish judokas who won medals at the Commonwealth Games

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George Kerr insists that the only Scots judoka to miss out on a Commonwealth Games medal will come good in the Rio Olympics.

Current president of the British Judo Association, 10th dan Kerr is adamant that Edinburgh’s Patrick Dawson should not be downhearted.

Commonwealth Games, Glasgow 2014'SECC Judo'Men's-73kg Preliminary Round of 32'Patrick Dawson of Scotland wins against Joseph Hell Bapou of Cameroon'' Neil Hanna Photography'www.neilhannaphotography.co.uk'07702 246823

Commonwealth Games, Glasgow 2014'SECC Judo'Men's-73kg Preliminary Round of 32'Patrick Dawson of Scotland wins against Joseph Hell Bapou of Cameroon'' Neil Hanna Photography'www.neilhannaphotography.co.uk'07702 246823

“Pat has too much talent to be down for long and I think any disappointment felt after Glasgow will drive him onwards and upwards.

“I see no reason why he won’t regroup and go on to win a medal in Rio,” said Kerr, speaking at his junior judo club in Leith. Scotland collected six golds, two silvers and five bronze medals in Glasgow, but hopes of a clean sweep were dashed when Dawson, pictured below, was victim of a shoulder throw just 20 seconds into his contest with Australian Jake Bensted.

It was a surprising conclusion and later Kerr sought an explanation from Scotland coach Billy Cusack.

“Billy just shrugged his shoulders and told me ‘you know judo – these things happen from time to time’.

“I had to agree but it doesn’t detract from Patrick going on from here.”

Dawson’s true potential can be measured by gold at a continental Open in Bulgaria earlier this year as well as a silver prize in a Pan American competition in Buenos Aires in 2013.

A happier memory for Kerr is of presenting a gold medal to Euan Burton.

“I’ve attended many Olympic Games but never presented a medal because that is the preserve of IOC members.

“To give the gold to Euan was special as he first came to my Edinburgh Club as a six-year-old. Euan’s dad was doing karate and brought the lad along; pretty early on, one of the club’s coaches, Peter Gardiner, spotted something special on the mat.

“After the medal ceremony some people picked up on the fact that I spent longer talking to the bronze and silver medallists which they found surprising.

“In fact, it was quite emotional talking to Euan and all I could say was I was very, very proud of him.

“The New Zealander who took the bronze was well into his 30s which was deserving of serious congratulations while the Pakistani silver medallist had been at a University in Japan where I had gone to study at the start of my career.”

Another of Kerr’s star pupils, Chris Sherrington, also struck gold.

“I was especially pleased for Chris that he was able to win in front of some of his fellow Royal Marines who’d come along to watch,” he added.

“I also enjoyed seeing him donning his beret after all the formalities had been completed and posing for photographers in his judo suit.

“For me that summed up the relaxed atmosphere of these Games because I can recall being at an Olympics and a very dim view was taken of an Iranian competitor so overjoyed at winning a medal he ripped off his top and started whirling it around his head.

“Authorities gave serious consideration to removing that player’s medal.

“In fact, these were the best Commonwealth Games ever so far as I was concerned.

“If I was to nitpick I’d say the opening and closing ceremonies could have done with being a wee bit more athlete focused – you couldn’t walk right around Hampden Park to wave to family and friends – and the security was tight but pretty efficient.

“Remember how, at the London Games, things threatened to fall apart and the military had to be brought in at the last minute to bolster the security.”

The battle now for judo is to try to break down barriers and secure a place on the schedule for the next Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast in Australia in 2018.

At the moment that is unlikely, but Kerr refuses to give up hope.

“The president of the International Judo Federation was in Glasgow and will be trying to negotiate an entry.

“If successful I see plenty of up and comings ready to take over from those Scots who are retiring,” said Kerr who has no intention himself of standing down.

“I’d love, if possible, to continue as president of the British Judo Association until the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

“By then I’ll have turned 80 and, having spent so much time in Japan when I was younger, that would be a pretty good jump off point,” said Kerr who was awarded the CBE three years ago.