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The final roar: Chris Sherrington quits after admitting he could never bear to settle for silver

IT was one of the iconic images of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Chris Sherrington emitting a colossal bear-like roar of pride and sheer euphoria as he won gold in front of a packed SECC arena in Glasgow.

Chris Sherrington bellows with delight after winning gold at Glasgow 2014. PIcture: Nick Ponty
Chris Sherrington bellows with delight after winning gold at Glasgow 2014. PIcture: Nick Ponty

The moment marked the pinnacle of a remarkable nine-year judo career for the Royal Marine Commando who has announced his retirement from the sport.

Broxburn-based Sherrington was given a sports draft by the Royal Navy to pursue his career on the mat in 2005. He made his Olympic debut in 2012 and fulfilled his ambition of Commonwealth Games gold by winning the men's +100kg category in Glasgow.

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The 30-year-old was part of Team Scotland's hugely successful judo contingent at the Games who between them secured 13 medals including six gold, two silver and five bronze.

"It was a hard decision," says Sherrington. "The Marine in me will always go on and on, pushing through catastrophe and hardship, but I have to think about my family and career. It's not just me I'm potentially affecting: it's my wife, any future children as well as my earnings and retirement. I have no rank in the Royal Marines at present and without that you get very little pension. Judo is a sport you have to stick in as long as you can and it wasn't until the week after the Games that I sat down and looked at my current circumstances.

"I've beaten top players in the world, I could have made it to Rio but personally there isn't the quality of training partners I need to do that."

He admitted to feeling a tad disillusioned with the set-up at British Judo when he paid a recent visit to their Walsall base. "A lot of it was good but some of the things weren't in place," says Sherrington.

"If I'm going to go to Rio, then I'm only going to go if I can win. As things stand I could finish within the top five or take a bronze, perhaps even a silver, but if I'm not going to get the gold then it's not worth putting in another two years.

"I never planned on doing judo, it wasn't ever part of the design for my life," he adds. "I always wanted to be a Royal Marine Commando and then was given this very special opportunity which the Navy allowed me to pursue. You have to pull the plug at some point. It's time to concentrate on my career as a Marine now."

Sherrington, who was deployed to Iraq in the early days of the invasion in 2003, will exit the sport with a few additional mementos to remember his days as a judoka, not least an eye-watering list of potentially career-ending injuries.

"I've had surgery on my knee, ankles and three operations on my shoulders," he says. "I've just had an MRI scan done on my elbow because there is a bit of bone floating around in there from when I took my silver medal in Cuba [at the Havana Grand Prix in June]. They will probably need to put me under [general anaesthetic] to get that out."

In the fortnight since the Games ended, Sherrington has already dropped 13kg - or just over two stone in old money - going from 133kg to 120kg. He plans to shed a further 5kg before returning to his day job.

While Sherrington admits to a small pang of sadness at dismantling the physique built by nine years of hard graft, his overwhelming emotion is of relief.

"To be honest I've always hated being so big," he says. "I prefer looking trim - as Marines should. It was mentally taxing getting up every morning and looking at myself in the mirror. I felt embarrassed being so heavy. It feels good to be getting back to the weight that will allow me to do my job as a Marine."

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