With less than 100 days until the Olympics, you might expect Great Britain’s potential competitors to be getting nervous, but Winston Gordon is as relaxed as ever.
Tooting’s veteran judoka has been there and done it all before, winning gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and coming fourth in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
A dislocated finger has kept him out of action since November but the 35-year-old returns to the mat next Thursday to compete in the European Championships, where he needs a good performance to
boost his chances of making a third Olympics.
England has 14 host nation places – seven for men, seven for women – and Gordon is competing for a spot in the 90kg category, with Chobham’s Matthew Purssey his closest rival.
But, despite the competition and the prize of competing at a home Olympics on offer, Gordon is keeping calm.
“I have got to be relaxed – I been through all this already and experience counts for a lot,” he said.
“I don’t want to get myself caught up in the hype, I have just got to keep positive and believe in my ability and my experience.
“My number two is on my heels and he is going to be pushing and if I am not at my best then he is going to punish me.
“I am number 44 in the world and Matt is number 66 so I just have to keep myself ahead of him and not let him catch me.
“I am feeling OK and training has gone really well so I am just looking forward to getting back in the thick of competition.
“I have been out for a little bit of time with injury but I am fit and raring to get back on the big stage again.
“I am just fine-tuning my training now, all the hard work has been done.”
Gordon is part of a 21-strong GB team going to the Championships in Chelyabinsk in Russia and, although he would love to make the podium, he admitted he has got to be realistic.
“I want to get a medal to go in the cabinet,” he said.
“But, in the scheme of things, it is my first competition back and I have got to take it as any other tournament.
“I have not been fit since November so to come back in at a big competition like this is going to be a bit of a push but I believe in myself and the experience behind me.
“I am just after anything that will enhance my chances of going to the Games.
“I want a good performance and will take each fight at a time.”