Euan Burton: relocating to Walsall is Scottish judo players' "choice"

By Jane LewisBBC Scotland Commonwealth Games reporter
Scottish Judo high performance coach Euan Burton
Olympian Euan Burton says there is no funding plan that suits all athletes

Judo Scotland high performance coach Euan Burton admits players must make a "very difficult" decision about relocating to England if they want to represent Great Britain.

British Judo now base the world class performance programme at their training centre in Walsall.

Scottish Judo players seeking a place on the programme, and with it full funding from UK sport, must move south.

"There is no perfect situation, but there's always a choice," Burton said.

"The athlete can choose to stay in Scotland, however, you're taking a choice to receive less funding and possibly receive less punts at the ball, so to speak."

Euan Burton says Scottish judo players must make the decision to move south for elite funding or remain at home

British Judo made the decision to centralise their operation in Walsall following the Rio Olympics and Burton, who moved into coaching after winning gold at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, acknowledges that the situation is not ideal for Scottish judo players.

"Everyone is always trying to look for the best solution for the athletes," Burton told BBC Scotland.

"Unfortunately you will very often find a best solution for most athletes, but you'll probably never find a perfect situation for all athletes. and we just have to try to do the best we possibly can for everybody."

Burton's wife, Olympic silver medallist Gemma Gibbons, decided against moving away from Edinburgh, while Sally Conway, a bronze medallist in Rio, did make the move, after training at Judo Scotland's base in Ratho for more than a decade.

Neil MacDonald admits it was a tough decision to move to Walsall at 17 to pursue his elite judo career

Neil MacDonald decided at 17 to make the move from his home in Glasgow and admits the decision to leave his family and friends was "very difficult".

Burton also insists there are development opportunities for Scottish judo players despite the setback of the sport not being included in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018.

"Not being involved in the Gold Coast means we're [judo] not in the shop window again and for judo across Scotland, of course, we want to keep our profile as high as possible," said Burton, whose gold medal at Glasgow 2014 was one of 13 medals won by the 14-strong team.

"However, on the flip side it's also nice to have an eight-year gap between Commonwealth Games where we can put a real good programme in place for our young athletes."

Euan Burton relaxed over judo's Gold Coast Commonwealth Games absence