Competition wrap up | Rob's Blog

Published 13 August 2016 (AEDT) | Author Rob Katz

Australian Judo Team in Rio after training on August 3. © Rob Katz

Rob Katz - Nathan and Josh Katz's Dad (judo)

Wow, time has just flown since we arrived only 10 days ago on the 2nd.

We had training in the Judo training venue adjacent to the village for the next 3 days, with Josh and Chloe concentrating on weight-making on the 5th, the day of their weigh-in just one day before competition.

Nathan had us worried when he woke up with bad stomach cramps and had to be isolated in another room in case this was gastro. Always the potential for a spanner to get thrown into the works! The docs and nurse from the Oz team were great as you would expect and gave him some good meds to settle the cramps.

Rowing pictogram

Dr Judo John understood exactly the dilemma of a Judo athlete trying to cut fluids and needing to train the day before his weigh-in. I spent most of the day with Nath to make sure he was comfortable. It was fortunate that he recovered quickly and was able to do a light run in the late afternoon, so weight making was no problem for him or any of our athletes and they all looked very sharp and motivated as their competition day came closer.

For our boys, as was the case for the other Aussie Judo athletes, qualifying for the Games has been a lifelong dream. Josh being the youngest athlete in the Judo competition and Nathan at only 21 have many years of international Judo ahead of them and much more international experience to gain. However, they have always had a firm belief in their ability based on a huge training ethic and a thirst for knowledge and improvement.

They have spent a great deal of time overseas since leaving school, which for Josh was only late last year. So for this Olympics, their aim was to absolutely scare the crap out of the seeded players and see what mark they could leave on the international Judo map.

Kerrye and I were anxious but also confident in the boys’ ability to perform on this stage. They have certainly come a long way since wrestling on the lounge-room floor and attacking me in my bedroom using the water bed as a crash mat – come to think of it, they still do that from time to time.

Rowing pictogram

The Draw came out and Josh drew the UZB athlete who was a very strong and accomplished opponent. Josh was not overwhelmed at any stage and went about his warm-up with his brother Nathan fiercely and professionally. The aim was to drag out the match for a couple of minutes and to try to frustrate his opponent to create opportunities. As it happened UZB treated Josh with huge respect as his initial attacks were well covered by Josh. So UZB aggressively attacked Josh’s arm in a transition move to the ground. The first time Josh evaded well, but UZB persisted and eventually caught Josh in a submission.

Kerrye and I were willing Josh from the stands and felt his loss deeply but knew that he would be much stronger from the experience. UZB fought extremely well all day and ended up with the Bronze. Josh was disappointed but in no way out of his league at this level.

Josh is no less motivated to achieve what he has always planned to do which is to get on that Olympic podium. We are immensely proud of his effort.

On Day 1 19-year-old Chloe also took to the mat against a French girl 11 years her senior and gave a solid performance before getting caught on the ground, again a great experience from a very young Judoka.

On Day 2 Nathan was the only Australian competing and his stomach bug was not even a distant memory. His preparation was perfect and he drew the African champion whom he narrowly defeated at the Tokyo Grand Slam late last year so he was well known to Nathan. This match went exactly to plan, with Nathan dominating grips and posture and taking every opportunity for the advantage. With only 40 seconds remaining his dominance was reflected on the scoreboard with the Moroccan picking up 3 penalties to Nathan’s 1. Nath just needed to hold out but couldn’t resist an urge to attack obviously believing he could score.

Rowing pictogram

Unfortunately he was countered for a low score putting MAR ahead. Maybe MAR deserved a fourth penalty (and therefore a DQ) as Nath pressured the last 30 seconds but it didn’t happen and that’s how it ended. MAR then lost to CAN in the QF, also a turnaround as he defeated CAN in Tokyo last year.

Nath was distraught and both Kerrye and I could not hide our sadness for him, knowing the effort that he had put into this day and knowing how close he came to winning this match. Again we were immensely proud of how he carried himself on that great stage and how close he came to a fine win.

In the end that’s what makes Judo so unique, extremely demanding on mind and body and where the slightest lapse in concentration can cost the match. There is no doubt that these boys will achieve their goals and we will of course support them all the way.

On Day 3 Jake Bensted put up a great effort beating his opponent from Tanzania and also fought well against his AZE opponent before submitting from an armbar. AZE went on to win Silver. Day 4 saw Katharina Haecker defeat her opponent from Andorra and put up a good match before losing to her Japanese opponent. Unfortunately Eoin Coughlan lost his first match against Korea and on Day 6 Miranda Giambelli lost her match against the former world champion Brazilian (and the crowd).

So ended the Judo competition for the Aussie team. Two wins doesn’t sound like much but so much depends on the Draw and everyone put up good performances lifting to their best levels, so that’s all the athletes can expect of themselves and that’s all anyone can really ask of them.

This is a very young team and we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see all of them in Tokyo, far more experienced and much closer to reaching those podium goals. They carried themselves admirably and with pride and we are very proud of all of them.

Thinking about just being here with our two boys in the team and watching them reach this level of achievement still brings on goose-bumps. Seeing them perform so competitively and so maturely against the world’s best at their age only makes us imagine what lies ahead – more goose-bumps.

The Judo Olympic competition saw some fantastic matches and some interesting results with a huge spread of countries taking out Gold, including the usual powerhouses Japan and Russia, but also Czech Republic, USA, Argentina, Slovenia, Kosovo, Brazil and Italy. In all, nine countries sharing 12 possible golds with only the heavyweights to go.

- Rob Katz

<h5>Katharina Haecker hero</h5>
<p>Katharina Haecker</p> Judo


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