Q&A with world number 4 judoka Euan Burton

realbuzz.com chats with GB judo’s Euan Barton

On writing this article Euan Burton is ranked #4 in the world in his weight class and is one of team GB's biggest, most promising judokas. A veteran of the sport, London 2012 will be 31-year-old Burton's second Olympic Games. Burton has been on the podium at two Judo World Cups and three European championships but never achieved gold. That is something he hopes to remedy in London and his narrow defeat at the IJF masters in Azerbaijan (January 2011) at the hands of the eventual champion shows that he is up there among the top competitors for 2012.

Here's what Euan had to say when realbuzz.com caught up with him between mat sessions.

Q. Can you tell us what inspired you to get into judo?       

A. I was a really young kid when I started Judo. Actually I was about 6 years old when I started the sport. I was a pretty active kid from a small village in east Lothian so there were plenty of fields and woods to cut about in. My dad recreationally did karate. I wanted to do something like that and he suggested judo might be better because it was very interactive partly because you need partners to practice but also to fight. Because I was a very, very shy kid,  having to have a partner up with other kids and switch between different partners meant I had to talk to lots and lots of different kids which is something I wouldn't have done off my own back. Judo is great for that and breaking down barriers.

Q. Can you give us an update on your training?

A. Last weekend I was out in Azerbaijan [at the masters] ... the best of the best get invited so to be on the podium there ... was cementing the fact that I'm among the top places. My world ranking proves that at the moment as well. It's been a pretty good year last year and preparation is starting to build up now.

There is a lot of hard work to be done [this year]

Q. What about your previous successes, are they one of the things that help you stay motivated?

A. In a sport like Judo consistency is one of the hardest things to come by. [The last year] was even stronger than any other worlds before so to be on the rostrum was a massive boost to my confidence.

The masters are only the cream of the crop so it does good things for your confidence but you can't rest on your laurels. You have to keep putting in the work and training and producing at tournaments. Everyone is training hard as well.

Q. What lies ahead for 2012?

A. I've always been the kind of athlete who tries to make the very best what they are doing. For me the most important thing is to try and progress and keep pushing. Everyone in the world is trying to be Olympic champion. You need to make the best of yourself as an athlete [to do that].

I am more relaxed about London, but I know there is going to be a massive amount of pressure with it being a home Olympic Games. It excites me a great deal. Home advantage can mean a lot.

 Q. Are you starting to feel the excitement for the games and the buzz building?

Yeah. The buzz and the hype is starting to build now. When you're a full cycle away it's in the back of peoples head but it's not right at the forefront. The two years to go celebrations were a big deal and people are getting more and more excited. For me 18 months is still a long, long way away. That's good thing that keeps my feet on the ground.

I want to replicate the pressure I'll feel at the Olympics so I want to fight at the biggest events ... where the best players are. I am no spring chicken and don't need to fight week in week out. Judo is a sport which takes its toll on your body. I've been on rostrum for the Worlds twice and the European Championships three times but never been champion so those are two big goals before London. But I'd probably swap all of my medals for a gold medal in London.

Q. Finally, a bit more of a light-hearted one. What music do you listen to psyche yourself up for a fight?

A. (Euan gives a long pause replete with eeering and umming) I have a lot of music, I have quite an eclectic mix but I don't actually listen to anything before I go out to compete because I found that if I get a song stuck in my head that can distract me from being 100 per cent focused on the guy in front of me!

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