FOR the third straight Olympics, Edinburgh judoka Sarah Clark was eliminated in the first round but the 34-year-old maintains she bows out of London 2012 with neither complaints nor regrets.
Four years of blood, sweat and tears in training boiled down to under six minutes of action against France’s Automne Pavia in the women’s 57kg category at the ExCel Arena.
Clark faced a tall order against the No. 4 seed and, after a tight five minutes, the match went to golden score where Pavia executed a Waza-ari throw.
On first impressions it seemed a harsh judgment but Clark was gracious enough in defeat to acknowledge she had been beaten by the better fighter.
“It was definitely a score,” she said. “Initially you think you have gotten off the technique, but that is why the video referees are there. I was positive with my performance throughout until that point. I played the plan I had been looking to play against that girl, with her coming ranked fourth in the tournament, but unfortunately a slight error at the end cost me the match.
“It was always going to be a tough draw – it wasn’t the toughest draw, I could have had the number one.
“It is the top 25 in the world so I did not come in here with any expectations less than playing the number one. The crowd helped massively and I used it to my advantage against the French girl, like the French do when they are in Paris. Unfortunately it was not to be.”
At 34, Clark is the second oldest member of the British Judo squad but insists she has yet to make any decision on her future. But for all the sacrifices she has made in order to make it to London 2012, the former European champion maintains they have all been worthwhile.
She added: “You put every day for four years that goes into it, it is tough but that’s sport.
“You can see the world No. 2 seed went out in the first fight and there’s no comeback.
“It used to be you would have the repechage where you could make the bronze medal match but now you have to get to the quarter-finals. It is tough but that’s sport.
“You have got to put everything in otherwise you go into the event with some doubts but I had no doubts going into this that I was in the best shape of my life.
“I think I have to go back and think about what’s next. I am obviously very emotional at the moment so I need to figure out where I go from here. I am not the oldest athlete by any stretch in the Olympic Games so I think there will be lots of opportunities ahead of me whatever I decide to do.”
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