Royal Navy athlete Mark Shaw is determined to finish his judo career with a medal at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.
Lieutenant Commander Shaw, 35, started judo at just six years of age and will be bringing an end to nearly three decades in the sport when he competes in Glasgow.
He said: ‘It’s the pinnacle of my career.
‘I missed opportunities earlier on because I was focusing on my career and the navy.
‘This is the swansong for me before I retire from senior competitive judo.’
The Horsea Island-based diver is representing Wales in the over 100kg category.
And he has targeted a podium position in his last major tournament.
‘I’m really pleased to have reached this sort of level,’ he said.
‘I’m really honoured to compete at such a home Games and I expect to bring back a medal.
‘I have been training full-time at the British Judo Centre of Excellence in Walsall since January.
‘I’m very grateful to the navy for giving me the opportunity to train full-time.
‘It’s certainly improved my medal chances.
‘It just shows that you can realise your dreams with the navy.’
Shaw, who lives in Denmead, was regularly in the Great Britain junior and senior squads but had to juggle his navy career with judo.
He returned to regular training in 2012 and, following a podium finish at the British Championships in 2013, he set himself the target of reaching the Commonwealth Games.
In a strange twist of fate, he could face his fellow Royal Navy and long-term rival, Royal Marine Chris Sherrington, who is fighting for Scotland in the same discipline.
Shaw said: ‘I know him very well, we’ve trained a lot together.
‘We know each other’s judo, but that can be a negative because we know each other’s styles so well.
‘I’m quite light for this category, only weighing 109kg, unlike Chris and the others who are around 125-130kg.
‘It’s a lot of weight to give away but I’ve been doing judo since I was the age of six and can rely on a lot of experience and technique to help make up for the difference in weight.
‘If things go well on the day I can give anyone a good fight.
‘Whatever the result, it will be great to have two people from the navy competing on such a momentous occasion.’
Shaw competes on July 26, with the prelims in the morning, followed by the finals in the afternoon.
It’s going to be a gruelling schedule.
Shaw knows he will have to be at his best from the start and cannot afford to make any mistakes.
‘It’s all on one day, so there’s no margin for error,’ he said.
‘If you lose the first fight, that’s you finished.
‘It’s a very physical sport and you regularly pick up niggles.
‘It’s really hard on the body, especially full-time training.’