Euan Burton, British judo's team talisman, is ready to take the long route to Olympic glory.
The 32-year-old from Edinburgh is set to travel to Japan, Korea and Russia in the coming weeks to fine tune his preparations for London 2012 and ensure he is in peak condition for the most important competition of his life at the ExCeL centre in London on July 31.
Burton is twice a World Championships bronze medallist and a regular contender at major events, making him Britain's best hope of a judo medal. Expectations of success, however, are internal in a sport where the slightest of lapses can result in defeat.
He said: "If you're going to stand at the top of the podium you've got to beat everybody that's in front of you. People know that I can and I know that I can, but I don't think people are expecting it, because I'm not world and Olympic champion - I've never been European champion.
"The pressure that's on me is on me from myself and the people around about me who know how much hard work I've put in and how much it means to me. To be a champion and to try to win, you've got to deal with those pressures."
Although his Olympic place is yet to be assured, Burton is set to line up as Britain's representative in the 81 kilograms half-middleweight division, with 31 fighters from 31 different nations in opposition.
The top eight fighters will be seeded and granted a more favourable draw, but Burton, who is currently ranked number 12 in his class, is unconcerned as he faces five five-minute fights in his bid for Olympic gold.
"The category's going to be jammed full of tough guys to fight," he added. "Whether you get them in the first fight or the final, it doesn't really matter - you've got to beat them.
"When I've had my best results, it's often been off the toughest draws. It's one of the things I do best - I rise to the challenge at the biggest events.
"I'd like to be top eight to get a good ranking for the Games, but if I'm slightly outside of that and it means I'm going to get one of the top-eight guys first fight, I'm happy with that as well and I'm fully confident that I can beat all of those guys."
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