Euan Burton is ready to take the next step in his judo evolution as he looks to deliver a medal at the European Championships, which get under way on Thursday, ahead of success in the London Olympics.
The 33-year-old Scottish half-middleweight is one of Team GB's leading hopes for a place on the podium this summer, and a strong display out in Chelyabinsk, Siberia will boost chances of an all-important top eight seeding at the Games.
Burton had previously climbed as high as fourth in the world rankings following a string of consistent performances on the International Judo Federation elite tournament circuit. The Edinburgh Ratho fighter is confident his hard work will all pay off by the time he reaches London.
"I think I have evolved as a fighter consistently. I don't think I have always been a better player when higher in the world rankings, or worse when lower," Burton told Press Association Sport.
"I have always said if I got to a stage where I did not think I could get any better, then that would be the time I hang my kit up."
Burton was mentored by British Olympic Association director of elite performance Sir Clive Woodward at the Beijing Games, but missed out on the chance to fight for a medal.
"I am little bit more experienced and a bit more wiser now, I am able to say no to things which might affect my preparation," he said. "Physically I feel almost in peak shape, and by the time the Olympic Games come around, hopefully peak shape."
Burton was left frustrated by an early exit from the 2011 World Championships in Paris against stubborn Montenegrin Srdjan Mrvaljevic. The British judoka, though, has been working on ways to "out-fight" whomever stands between him and the Olympic prize.
"There have been some certain fighters where I have been looking at technical and tactical stuff," said Burton, who collected both world and European bronze medals in 2010.
"To the layman, judo might look like it is just about whacking the other guy on their back, but if only it was that simple all of the time. Sometimes you have to come up with plans on how to out-fight people."