Welsh Judoka Oliver Barrat is back in action this weekend as the Czech Republic hosts the European Open.

The capital of the Czech Republic is welcoming over 300 athletes for the Prague European Open this weekend between the 27th and 28th of February. One of those athletes included Wales’ own Oliver Barratt, who heads back to the competition mat for the first time in twelve months.

The Dragons Academy judoka has been based at British Judo since April 2019 after he was selected onto the Full Time Elite Development Squad.  He certainly finished the year on a high, coming away with a bronze medal in the men's heavyweight +100 kg at the African Open in Dakar.

Ollie told us when he first returned to training it was unusual adapting to the ‘new normal’. With the social distance measure British Judo put in place to follow in order to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, including changing groups and having specific training partners in individual clusters, he said it “took some getting used to.”

Over the initial lockdown period Ollie said physically he was able to take advantage of not having judo to be able to develop his strength and conditioning work, being able to increase strength and fitness levels in order to reap the benefits when returning to the mat. Mentally things were a little tougher, “In the initial lockdown period, mentally I found it a bit harder not knowing when the next time we could do judo and the uncertainty of how long lockdown would last,” he said. However, when it came to adapting, Ollie credits the values that judo has taught him over the years. “One of the main judo values that has helped me adapt to the new normal is discipline.” This helped him maintain a routine, albeit a slightly different one.

Ahead of competition on Sunday Ollie told us, “After over a year without competing I’m excited to get back on the competition mat and be able to show off the hard work that I’ve put in over the last 12 months.”

Both days are set to start at 09:00 local time, with a link available on the European Judo Union website or Ippon TV.

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