Norfolk judo star Colin Oates has said he will not retire from the sport after it was revealed his governing body have dropped him from their funding programme.
The North Lopham-raised star, ranked 19 in the world, remains the long-standing British number one in his under-66kg weight category.
But at 33-years-old, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist is considered to be too old to invest in ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
Oates, who had a disappointing Rio Olympics in the summer, going out to a controversial decision in his first fight, released a statement this afternoon confirming he will continue to fight, despite the funding withdrawal from UK Sport as part of the British Judo Performance Program.
The judoka, who suffered a quarter-final exit at his home Olympics in London in 2012, wrote on his Facebook page: “After around 12 years on the British Judo Association performance program the time has come for them to move in a different direction and as such have decided not to keep me on the program for the up coming year,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
“The move is designed to start investing in more youthful players.
“I hold no resentment about the decision as statistically speaking no athlete in judo has won an Olympic title aged 37.
“This means it would be increasingly difficult to argue my case to U.K. Sport.
“I would like to thank the association, U.K. Sport and everyone who plays the national lottery.
“Without these resources being invested in me I would not have been able to chase my dream for over a decade.
“It’s been a pleasure to help lead the line for British judo during this period and hopefully those younger guys can now take up the reins.
“I would like to say this is not an announcement of retirement and I will be competing at the British trials (albeit at a new weight). The new year brings news targets and new opportunities.”