LONDON 2012: Oates confident that British Judo will get it right at Olympics
COLIN Oates believes the future is still bright for British Judo despite disappointing performances at the recent World Championships in Paris and this week's departure of three key coaching staff.
UPBEAT: Colin Oates believes the future is bright for British Judo, despite the axing of three senior coaches and a disappointing return from the World Championships in Paris
Performance director Margaret Hicks has been replaced by German Daniel Lascau while head coach Patrick Roux and senior women's coach Jane Bridge has also left the organisation.
Despite high hopes, British judokas disappointed at the Beijing Olympics and Oakes produced one of the few positive performances in France, finishing fifth in the under 66kg category, in which he also won bronze at the European Championships earlier this year.
"My year so far has been my best year ever. I have made good progress over the whole Olympic cycle but this year has been particularly good," said Oates, who will miss this weekend's British Open in Liverpool in preference to the upcoming Grand Prix event in Holland.
"Being third at the Europeans was great and made the whole year worthwhile. London 2012 is a good marker for me and I’m in a good position to produce a result there.
"I have been in around the bronze quite a lot, what I want for London 2012 is to make a final. Bronze is good, it means you’re in at the end but to make a final is what I want and what I can produce.
"From third place to silver or gold is a different challenge. If you look where I was two years back, when I was losing in the early rounds, it is probably the hardest step. It’s more of a mental thing, you have to prepare and focus for the competition. Once you get to the final, it about the minor details."
Judo has a tradition of delivering British medals at the Olympics, dating back to Neil Adams and Kate Howey.
The sport has invested heavily in a high performance centre in Kent and was dramatically overhauled following Beijing with French coach Roux, now axed, drafted in to ring the changes.
"We want to improve on last two Olympics. I definitely think we can, we have some great players and from what I've seen from some of the players everyone is definitely improving," added Oates, in a conference call organised by the British Olympic Association.
"Nations like Japan have 20 times our members and it makes it a little bit tougher for us. However, the structure which has been put in place has been good for me and good for British judo.
"This kind of environment has pushed on the whole country to try and improve, I think it’s going to benefit the whole future rather than the next few years."
British Judo are targeting two podium places at next year's Olympics - with Karina Bryant and Euan Barton, who have won nine world medals between them, two of their key hopes.
Chairman Design White remains confident they are on track, despite the displays in Paris, has believes the arrival of Lascau and other structural changes will be key.
"British Judo can deliver the target of two Olympic medals in London next summer," he said. "But we need to strengthen our technical expertise and we need to move more players into the seeded zone of the world ranking list."
© Sportsbeat 2011