Colin Oates could not hide his woe at an early exit from the inaugural European Games as he vowed to seal his 2016 Olympic place this month.
The North Lopham-raised judo player was aiming to clinch a medal in Baku, Azerbaijan last week but having overcome Kenneth Van Gansbeke in the opening round, he fell short of a place in the quarter-finals after suffering a second round exit to Portugal’s Sergio Olenic.
And to make matters worse for the 31-year-old Commonwealth Games champion, the eventual winner, Kamal Khan Magomedov, is someone he beat just a year ago in a Grand Slam event in Baku.
“It wasn’t a great performance from me to be honest,” said Oates reflecting on his missed opportunity of another medal.
“It was a great opportunity for me to challenge for a medal but it was a difficult fight against the worst kind of opponents for me.
“He was short, stocky and just caught me and I couldn’t get the points back near the end.
“It is disappointing because I’ve had good runs in qualifying but not quite shown that potential.
“It is the same for the Great Britain team as a whole. We have some world-class players but at the major events something just seems to be missing .
“I think I could and should have gone on to win a medal but I can’t have any arguments.
“That is the issue with my style of fighting, I’m not always going to be consistent but I have it in me to win a major event. I have two of those left before the Olympics and I would happily save a big performance for those.”
His first shot at redemption will be another Olympic qualification event in the form of a Grand Slam competition in Tyumen, Russia on July 18.
And with an opportunity to confirm his berth in Rio De Janeiro next year, Oates is desperate to hit form before setting his sights on the World Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan in August.
“I have always fought well in Russia in the past and I am the number one seed going into the event, so the draw should be kind to me,” he added. “Hopefully I can put the European Games behind me and all but confirm my qualification for the Olympics.
“That is my aim before the end of the year and if I can do it then it would have been a successful year.
“A good showing would also help my seeding for the World Championships and would allow me to avoid some of the bigger names. If I can secure my Olympic qualification now it would take a lot of pressure off me.”