Euan Burton in good shape for World Championships

By Colin WightBBC Scotland

It's Monday night and Euan Burton is in Edinburgh about to board a flight to Paris for what could be his last World Championships.

The 32-year-old judoka has been training hard, perhaps too hard, but insists he is in top shape.

"I'm well prepared; however you never know until you get to the tournament how the results are going to go," he tells BBC Scotland.

Burton is one of Scotland's big hopes for a medal. Ranked sixth in the world in the under-81kg division, he had a tremendous 2010, taking bronze in both the European and the World Championships.

This year times have been harder. He had a disappointing early departure from this year's European in Turkey but was happy with a podium finish at the World Masters in Azebaijan in January.

Now, after missing out on medal in Beijing, he's preparing for his second Olympics in London next year, an event in which Britain last won a medal at Sydney 11 years ago.

"There have certainly been times over the last couple of months when I've felt exhausted, rundown, flat and pretty terrible at times but that's all part and parcel of pushing as hard as you can in training," he explains.

"But I've been feeling better and better every day really for about the last fortnight so hopefully that will culminate in a big result on Thursday."

Changes to the International Judo Federation competition rules will make life that bit harder for Burton in Paris.

With nations allowed two fighters per weight category, it will make the championships twice as tough against the sport's traditional power nations of France, Japan, Russia, Brazil and Korea.

To reach the gold medal match it will take seven successful fights.

For Burton the Olympics is a very different competition. There will be 80 judo players competing for his podium place this week - in the Olympics only 32. But he says "they will be the best 32 in the world".

Paris is a big deal, not just for Burton but around half a dozen other Scots men and women fighters. They include Sarah Clark, Sally Conway, Sarah Adlington and James Millar, like Burton, all based at the National Training centre at Ratho near Edinburgh.

"It's a strong set up with good coaching and great players capable of reaching world level events," adds Burton.

"Now the task is to prove they are not only capable of reaching the event but medalling at it."

Burton has carved out a wonderful career but things could have been different had he gone through more of a growth spurt during his time at Pencaitland Primary School.

"I wanted to be a basketball player but just wasn't quite tall enough," he admits.

His hoop dreams may have been dashed but Burton has shown great fortitude to overcome an asthma problem.

"I've had it since I was very small and I am still on medication to control it," he explains. "Judo is very physically demanding and it just goes to prove that no matter how bad your asthma is you can compete."

You can follow Euan Burton on Twitterexternal-link.

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