TOM Reed’s Commonwealth Games performance gained him the royal seal of approval but the Devizes judoka is still wrestling with the maelstrom of emotions thrown up by his silver medal in Glasgow.
The 28-year-old blazed through the knockout stages of the men’s U81kg competition at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) Precinct before a bizarre twist of fate saw Reed pitted against England team-mate Owen Livesey – his room-mate in the athletes’ village – in the gold medal match.
The England duo’s familiarity saw them cancel each other out in a tense, cagey encounter last Friday but it was the Devizes man who was forced to settle for second place as he was beaten 3-2 on penalties.
Reed is still reflecting on the most high-profile victory of his career so far and was delighted to be rewarded with the opportunity to rub shoulders with Prince Harry at the Games on Tuesday.
“England picked representatives from a few different sports to give him a tour around the village and I guess they must have thought that I was one of the more reliable ones,” Reed told the Gazette & Herald.
“He seemed really nice and I don’t think I embarrassed myself. It was a great opportunity and it’s something that not many people get the chance to do.
“It really is mixed emotions for me. When you get through the semi-final, you know that you’re guaranteed a medal and that’s when the relief sets in.
“But then there’s so much pressure in the final, especially because of how big the crowd is. I was devastated afterwards but hopefully, when I get the chance to sit down and think about everything, I’ll be able to realise what an achievement winning a silver medal is.
“Throughout the day, I was cheering and high-fiving Owen when he was getting through his fights but it’s strange that we ended up fighting each other in the final.
“We’ve fought each other a hundred times in training but never in a competitive match before – we knew everything about each other and that’s why it was such a technical fight, that was always going to come down to penalties.
“I thought that it should have gone down to the golden score but that’s the way judo is because the scoring is subjective and you’re not always going to agree with the referee’s decisions.”
Reed has remained in Glasgow this week to let his hair down after his medal-winning exploits.
The Devizes ace, who spends a great deal of his time visiting youngsters as one of Sky Sports’ Living for Sport mentors, is hoping that his Commonwealth showdown with Livesey can play a part in increasing the profile of his sport across the United Kingdom.
He said: “A lot of the time, we are competing against world class opponents all over the world but it doesn’t get the exposure that competing at a huge multi-sport event creates.
“When I go back to Wiltshire and start doing my school visits again, some of those youngsters might have seen me competing on TV and what I’ve achieved can help inspire them.
“It’s really nice to have everyone at home following me and I’m proud of what I’ve done.I’m going to stay up in Glasgow until the closing ceremony to support the England team in the other events.
“The atmosphere up here has been incredible and it’s been great to watch other sports, like badminton, wrestling and weight-lifting.
“It’s also been good to have a few nights out, which is something I’ve not done in a long time.”
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