Katz keen on Tokyo success

Published 12 August 2016 (AEDT)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 07: Imad Bassou of Morocco and Nathan Katz of Australia (blue) compete during the Men's -66kg Elimination round of 32 on Day 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 2 on August 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. © 2016 Getty Images

JUDO: Athletes train their whole lives to make the Olympic Games.

Years and years of blood, sweat and tears to live out their lifelong dream. For some, their Olympic campaign lasts a couple of weeks. For others, it can be over in a matter of seconds.

Such is the nature of judo.

For rising star Nathan Katz it was the latter.

The 20 year-old was knocked out of the first round of the -66kg division 4:12 into his Olympic debut.

Heading into the final minute of the fight Katz had the advantage over his Moroccan opponent Imad Bassou but, not wanting to let his rival back into the match, he remained aggressive and Bassou capitalised.

“The fight was going great,” Katz said.

“I was in complete control of the fight and winning comfortably on penalties. I made a poor decision and got countered and just ran out of time to get the score back.

“I was feeling so confident out there because everything was going perfectly. I hadn't been threatened up until that point, I felt super sharp, didn’t feel tired at all and I was keen to close the match out strongly.

“One small mistake in judo is all it takes to change a fight and that's what I'll have to live with for four years.”

As much as the Olympics is about triumph and glory, it is also about learning and Katz believes he will be better for the experience in Rio as he looks to build a long and successful career on the mat.

“In the moments, hours and days after obviously I'm still extremely disappointed and gutted," admitted Katz.

“But no doubt this fight in particular will be fuel for the fire over the next four years.

“Moving forward I'll need to work on closing out some matches as unfortunately tiny lapses in concentration have already cost me from getting big results a couple of times this year.”

At just 20, Katz has plenty more fights in him and will be aiming for a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Games.

“It will be four long years to wait and work to make my dreams at the Olympics come true but the feeling of having it slip away once before will push me every single day," continued Katz.

“Tokyo for me was always where I believed I would be in the best position to be on the podium.

“There is a lot of work to do between now and then, of course, but no doubt I will be back fighting for my dream of an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.”

Despite the loss, Katz leaves Rio with a slice of history as he and his brother Josh became the first brothers to represent Australia in judo at an Olympic Games.

“The whole experience with Josh, even though we didn't get the result we had worked and hoped for, has definitely been unforgettable," added Katz.

“Walking onto the mat at the Olympics was the biggest buzz moment of my life but it's been nice having each other's support, especially dealing with the disappointment but we are definitely really lucky to have this opportunity and be able to share it.”

With the biggest competition of his life out of the way, Katz will take a much-deserved break before returning to the mat.

“I'm going to have a couple of weeks off from judo, but will keep in reasonable shape with a little running and beach weights," revealed Katz.

“We will stay in the Village until after the closing ceremony and I'll have a little holiday with my family who came over to Rio and also with some of the English judo boys in Spain who I've been living with the past couple of years.

“After that I'll come back home, and plan my next training and competition block - and the next four years.”

Matt Bartolo


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