Craig Fallon, the former World and European Judo champion, retired last week just five months before his home Olympics. Let us explore some of the highs and lows of his career.
Fallon began learning judo at the age of eight and was black belt by the age of 15. He subsequently lost interest in the sport and took time out before returning to competition, winning gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
…third British man to win a world title,
Perhaps his greatest achievement in his career came in winning the World Judo Championships in Cairo in 2005 in the under-60kg weight class, beating Ludwig Paischer of Austria in the final. In doing so, he became only the third British man to win a world title, after Neil Adams in 1981 and Graeme Randall in 1999.
The following year, he won the European Championships in Finland in the under-60kg weight class, beating Armen Nazaryan in the final. He therefore became only the second British man (after Neil Adams) to hold a world and European title at the same time.
Without much success…
However, his career may always be overshadowed by his disappointing performances in two Olympic Games. In 2004 in Athens, he was eliminated in the preliminary rounds, and in 2008 in Beijing he lost the bronze medal match to Israel’s Gal Yekutiel. Without much success in the Olympic Games, Fallon perhaps has not been as well-recognised as he ought to have been. The Olympic Games is often the only time that sports such as Judo get good national coverage, so it might be that Fallon’s lack of Olympic success means that his otherwise superb career has not totally been appreciated.
After his 2008 Olympics defeat, Fallon took a break from Judo. But, last year he returned, moving up from the under-60kg weight class. Sadly, he suffered a series of injuries and performed poorly in the world championships, going out in the first round. His lack of competiveness might have contributed to his decision to retire last week.
…a mostly successful career…
Having retired at the age of 29, Fallon plans to pursue a coaching career. With a mostly successful career behind him, I am sure that Fallon will prove to be a useful and valuable coach to younger competitors.