Judo: Patrick Dawson fights through pain for Euros

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Patrick Dawson knows pleasure can come from pain, as proven in the Portobello judoka’s European Open win in Sofia.

In February’s Under-73kg final, Dawson suffered a torn ligament in his toe and a fractured tooth when his Israeli opponent Sagi Muki head-butted him, yet he dug deep to take the gold medal and, with it, all but booked his place in this summer’s Commonwealth Games.

The 25-year old has seldom been pain-free since, but he will happily endure that as he takes the prizes that come his way.

The Commonwealth Games team will not be named until next month, but the selection period has closed and Dawson has already done enough.

His form has been rewarded with a place in the Great Britain team for this week’s European Championships in Montpellier, France, where he will compete in Sunday’s team event.

“I wasn’t really expecting to be selected,” admitted the world No.41, who combines training at the national centre in Ratho with studying at Heriot-Watt University. “It’s quite a young team, but it’s a strong team. I’d say everyone in the team is aiming for [the Olympics in] Rio 2016.”

Dawson has recently returned from South America, where he competed in Pan-American Cups in Uruguay and Argentina. Last year he beat the Olympic champion Mansur Isaev in Argentina and went on to win the title. This year, however, he lost his first fights in both events.

“I thought I fought well, but I was caught by two bits of judo and that’s the nature of our sport,” explained Dawson

“My win in Sofia has really helped me. I was accidentally head-butted in the final – it didn’t affect my ability to fight, but my ability to train as, if my tooth was knocked, it could come out. My toe was bad for quite a while but it seems to have calmed down now.

“No-one is ever 100 per cent fit, that’s the nature of a contact sport. If we weren’t sore, there’d be something wrong.”

Meanwhile, Edinburgh’s Sally Conway will target her first major medal and “a massive confidence boost” for this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Montpellier.

The 27-year-old is Britain’s highest-ranked judoka after finishing second in the 70kg class at last month’s Samsun Grand Prix in Turkey to add to an earlier silver in Dusseldorf.

“I’ve never had a European medal before, so I’m looking to fight hard and see what happens,” said Conway. My highest position is seventh and I’m aiming to beat that.

“If I can win a medal, it will help my ranking for Glasgow.”