Euan Burton bows out with a dream gold

Men's Judo gold medal winner Euan Burton. Photograph: Greg Macvean
Men's Judo gold medal winner Euan Burton. Photograph: Greg Macvean
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Euan Burton’s final bow as a judoka in Glasgow will rank as his greatest night in the sport.

Not that Commonwealth Under-100kg gold was his finest achievement in the sport – two World Championship and three European Championship medals bring more kudos – but Team Scotland’s flag-bearer has been the standard-bearer for the sport in recent years.

Burton has played a part in all 13 medals Scotland judokas won at the Games – six of them gold – either through his coaching, influence, advice or reputation.

His legacy will ensure Scotland wins medals at championships in years to come.

If his world and European medals attracted only a few paragraphs in Scottish national newspapers when they happened, he will be able to wallpaper the dojo at Ratho where he trains with the coverage he has received at the Games.

Since the disappointment of the last Olympics, Burton has been focused on coaching and has always maintained the success of Glasgow will be measured in how many medals the judo team achieves rather than any personal triumph.

It is typical of the man. There can be few in Scottish judo who have not been given a helping hand by Burton in their careers even if it has inevitably led to them being dumped on their back.

“I’ve said before and I’ll say again that this doesn’t make up for London,” he said.

“I worked my whole life to be Olympic champion and I fell short. I’ve only really worked towards the Commonwealths for the last five months – we don’t always get an opportunity in every Commonwealth Games so it isn’t always on our radar.

“The excitement was building all the way up to the tournament and then being flag-bearer was such an honour.

“I suppose it puts a little bit more pressure on you, but luckily all the guys on the first day took a bit of the pressure off me because they won so many medals.”

He has become synonymous with Scottish judo in recent years and did not take his place in Scotland’s team for Glasgow for granted and had to earn it through the world rankings along with the 13 others.

Burton has been the face of the High Performance Centre in Ratho in recent years, his medals at the top level in the sport proving that success could be engineered in Scotland.

There was pressure to move to one centre south of the border a few years back, but it was resisted and now some of the best English judoka – including new Commonwealth Under-66kg champion Colin Oates – train out of Ratho.

What other sport can consistently churn out medals at international level from a Scottish base? Much of that is down to Burton.

The only blemish for Burton was that wife Gemma Gibbons, competing for Team England, had to settle for Under-78kg silver.

Broxburn heavyweight Chris Sherrington, pictured left, was another popular winner – the larger-than-life Royal Marine overwhelming South African Ruan Snyman in the final.

Sherrington has had his injury problems since London 2012, but he exploded to the Commonwealth title to add yet another gold.

Edinburgh’s Sarah Adlington, competing for the first time since February due to an ankle injury, also struck gold in the women’s heavyweight division, beating England’s Jodie Myers in the final.

There was a silver for Ratho-based Matt Purssey in the men’s Under-90kg event, just losing out to South African Zack Piontek, the only non-British judoka to win gold at the Games and Glasgow’s Andy Burns also won bronze.