Colin Oates’ preparations for next year’s Olympics suffered a setback when he sustained a knee injury in training that will rule him out until April.
The British judo champion, from North Lopham, attended a training camp in Austria, but suffered a torn medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his left knee shortly after returning home.
“It was in light practice a few days later,” said Oates. “I should really have rested more after the camp as I was still a bit stiff, but I was sparring with some young lads and it was a complete accident.
“I was lucky. It was a clean tear, so I didn’t have to have an operation.
“But it takes at least four weeks to heal, and in that time you lose strength, so you have to start building up again.”
Oates was originally scheduled to compete in the International Judo Federation Grand Prix in Dusseldorf, starting today, but now does not expect to be in serious competition action until the European Championships in Glasgow in April.
“I hope to be back in action by March,” he said. “But at the moment all I can do is rehab work, and try to maintain upper body strength.
“We’ll have to test the knee out to see how it has healed, and then start building strength back into the leg.
“I am back on the mat, but it is just movement I’m practising. No contact or throwing.
“But if there is a good time to be injured, it’s now because there is not a lot of competition going on.”
Oates, who retained the British under-66kg title in December, has his sights still firmly fixed on the Olympics in Rio in 2016 and provided the knee heals fairly quickly he will be back in qualifying action in plenty of time.