Rio experience set to help young Aussie judokas

Published 7 August 2016 (AEDT)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 28: Australian judo athlete Joshua Katz speaks to the media during an Australian Olympic Team Press Conference on July 28, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. © 2016 Getty Images

JUDO: Young Australian judokas Josh Katz and Chloe Rayner will be looking to utilise their experience from their debut Olympic Games to push for a medal in four years time after both were knocked out in the first round of the Rio 2016 competition.

18 year-old Katz lost to Uzbekistan’s Diyorbek Urozboev in the -60kg division while 19 year-old Rayner was defeated by Laetitia Payet of France in the -48kg class at Carioca 2 at Barra Olympic Park.

Katz, who became Australia’s youngest ever male judoka to compete in Olympic competition for Australia at just 18 and 220 days, went down by ippon 1:17 into his Olympic debut after Katz was unable to evade an arm lock from Urozboev.

“I always knew it was going to be tough as he is one of the top boys and I won’t be surprised if I see him in a medal fight today,” Katz said.

“I got out of the first arm lock he did and then the second one I tried to adjust my grip but it was just on too fast and too strong to stop.

“I’ve trained with him before and I thought if I could get through the first two or three minutes then I could have broken him down because late into the fight anything can happen.”

He knows that the result will set him up for major competitions to come including the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games which he had originally set his sights on prior to making Rio.

“I would have liked to have soaked up this experience a little more on the mat especially because I didn’t think I really got into that fight," Katz added.

“I think that this is what I needed though for four years’ time so I can make sure that never happens again.”

Rayner also lost by ippon 1:21 into her bout.

The 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist moved around the mat with energy early and matched it with world number 21 in the opening exchanges before Payet took Rayner to the mat, securing a yuko before soon claiming the fight.

“I stuck to the game plan and the opening part of the fight the coaches and I were both happy with but I made a small mistake and she capitalised on that,” Rayner said.

“Other than that this is a great stepping stone for me so overall I can’t be too disappointed.”

Like Katz, Rayner is expecting to be back in 2020 knowing what it will take to push deep into an Olympic competition.

“This is really just the beginning. To get here was amazing and the experience is going to help me for the next cycle which will hopefully be the one I can do what I want at,” Rayner added.

In the first judo competition of the Games, the Brazilian crowd was out in force to cheer on their judokas.

“You’d expect that with any home crowd but it’s crazy in here,” Rayner acknowledged.

Josh’s brother Nathan is the only Australian competing in the -66kg division on Day 2 (August 7). His first round opponent is reigning African champion Imad Bassou of Morocco.

Matt Bartolo

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