Oates bounces back from funds cut in winning style

CHAMPION DISPLAY: Colin Oates (second left) shows off the gold medal that he clinched at the Senior British Judo Championships

CHAMPION DISPLAY: Colin Oates (second left) shows off the gold medal that he clinched at the Senior British Judo Championships

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Despite having had his 2017 funding taken away, Colin Oates stepped up two weight categories to beat the current British number one and claim his fifth British Senior Judo Champion title.

At the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield on Sunday, there was a chance the decision to step up to -81kg to fight could have backfired on the North Lopham-raised judoka.

But he took the switch in his stride, breezing through the pool stages, with one of his contests lasting only seven seconds.

In the final, experienced Oates came up against British Youth Champion and current British number one Owen Livesey.

It ended up being a single wazari that separated the pair, with Oates coming out on top to clinch the top prize.

For the 33-year-old, the success has come on the back of the recent news that after 12 years on the British Judo Association programme, his funding was to be completely cut from 2017 as the organisation put plans into place for the 2020 Olympics in Toyko.

“It was probably one of my better fighting days at any weight in terms of the judo I produced,” the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympian wrote on his Facebook page.

“The most important part for me was not about winning the event.

“It was more the fun of enjoying judo without having to do the grind of weight cutting.

“I could fight more relaxed and open up, which led to some nice pieces of judo which I was really proud of and happy to become British Senior Champion for the fifth time.”

He added: “Thanks to everyone that came along to watch, compete and support the event.”

Despite losing the financial help, which will cost him around £21,000, Oates recently confirmed to The Diss Express that he had no plans to walk away from the sport just yet.

As well as competing next year, the Commonwealth Games gold medal-winner and European Championships silver medallist will juggle those responsibilities with studying for his coaching qualifications.