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Burns night will come for Nathan
WHEN athletes from across the globe walk out at the Olympic Games opening ceremony on Friday, spare a thought for Nathan Burns. Had things been different, the Blackburn-born judoka should have been there – at best as Great Britain’s 66kg judo representative, at worst as first reserve.
As it is, Burns will still be at London 2012 but only as a training partner. So close but yet so far. But the 23-year-old is hoping his bitter disappointment will make him all the more determined not to miss out next time.
“I was absolutely gutted when I missed out because it was something I worked so hard for,” said the former Our Lady and St John’s High School pupil.
“It’s everyone’s dream to go to the Olympics so not to go is very hard to take.” Burns has been with the Olympic squad in Dartford as training partner for Danny Williams, who will compete in the 73kg class.
The fact that he was asked to train with three members of the GB team underlines how highly he is regarded. For Burns though they are backhanded compliments. “Part of me wants to be there helping them but part of me wants to be well away,” added Burns.
“It is pretty gutting to be around the squad knowing you won’t be competing and they are about to experience one of greatest occasions of their life.
“I will be at the Olympics when Danny is competing as I will be helping him prepare but I won’t be watching my own weight category, I don’t think I could bear it.” But Burns is a true battler. He is feeling down but he is not down and out and will use these lows to hopefully achieve the highs. “It has made me all the more determined,” he said.
“Not just to compete at the Olympics in 2016 but to go on and compete in World and European championships and win medals.
“This knockback has made me just want it more.” Burns is ranked two in the country behind Colin Oates, which normally would have earned him the first reserve slot.
But Lewis Keeble, ranked four, starred in a World Cup event leading up to selection and leap-frogged Burns for the standby slot. “These kind of things happen to me,” added Burns.
“But you just have to deal with it.” Burns comes from Judo stock. His dad Joe runs Shadsworth and Beach Judo clubs, while sister Tracey and brothers Jay and Joshua all competed nationally.
He is also as Blackburn as they come, so leaving home at the age of 16 to train elsewhere demonstrated just how committed he is. As soon as he left school he moved to the Midlands and then to Camberley Judo Club, where he trains and competes full time.
“Leaving home was a real wrench but it was something I had to do,” added Burns. “I love Blackburn and I am a Blackburn boy. I miss my family and my dad because he has been my inspiration.
“My family have supported me, both financially and emotionally, over the years and that is something I will be grateful for.”
And should Burns make the Games in Rio, he knows he will have repaid that faith.