By Michael Holden
LONDON (Reuters) - British judoka Euan Burton's calm and friendly mannerisms and quietly spoken approach belie the seething "assassin" that lurks within the 33-year-old who is more than ready to "smash", "choke" and "rip" his opponents' arms out in order to achieve the Olympic gold medal.
"Judo's most certainly a fight, and that is what you're doing,", Burton, one of the host nation's top hopes for its first Olympics judo medal since 2000, said before the London competition begins on Saturday.
"You're trying to smash someone on the back of their head, you're trying to rip their arm out, you're trying to choke them unconscious," the quietly-spoken, friendly Scot said.
"I like to think of myself more as an assassin than as a wild mercenary.
"I don't get riled particularly when people have bitten me during contest, people have kicked me, people have punched me which are all illegal moves, but people try and get away with things sometimes if the referee can't quite see.
"I never ever react to that kind of thing. I've got one job to do on the mat and that's to win the fight and win it within the rules."
Thursday's draw means Burton is likely to face Azerbaijan's Elnur Mammadli, who won gold in Beijing in a lighter division but has now moved up to the under-81 kg weight category, in the second round.
The pair have met twice before, with Mammadli coming out on top, once in Azerbaijan where Burton felt refereeing decisions went against him.
"There's no animosity there, but he might well be the player that's standing in my way at the Olympic Games so I'm going to go out and treat him like any other player and try and destroy him if I can," said Burton.
Burton said in the past Olympic draws where often easier for leading judokas because places were taken up by athletes from weaker nations, but changes to the qualification system for London ended that.
"The potential for an easier draw should you say is much lower at this Games," he said.
"There are easier first fights out there that's for sure, there are harder first fights. But there's no easy or hard draws now, they're all tough."
It's not just his opponents that pose a pitfall for Burton, he is well aware of lingering too long in the food hall in the athletes' village.
"It would be a stupid judo player who sat in the food court all day. The food's delicious, it's not just there's a lot of it, it's (also) delicious food," he said.
"So you just keep yourself occupied. When you go to eat, you eat and get yourself out of there as quickly as you possibly can," he laughed. (Editing by Greg Stutchbury)
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