The big test for this group will be the London 2012 Olympic Games. The group that has shown resilience and an ability to match it with the best in the world but will have to perform at the event which is the pinnacle of any Judoka’s career the Olympic Games.
It is my personal opinion that we have about four athletes capable of making the top seven in London and if one or two of them can have a touch of good luck we can see
them in medal matches.
Once London is done it will be time for the next generation to step up. With the exception of Mark Anthony and Jake Andrewartha the current crop will either be retiring or moving past their best years in the run to Rio 2016 and beyond.
There is a smaller group of young elite’s coming through but a few of them have shown they have the dedication and drive to really push through and make something of their Judo careers. Back in the day, two wins was sufficient to have a shot at a medal at the World Championships. Now it is more like five wins, and that task is only going to become more difficult as Judo continues to flourish worldwide.
This post 2012 group is going to need support to make it on the world stage, and we need to look at other initiatives besides direct government funding to help them. What is exciting is that grassroots Judo is seeing a newfound growth at club, local and state level. Judo clubs, schools and academies are opening up more and more. Judo programs are being implemented in different Martial Arts Schools. With the rapid growth of mixed martial arts, Judo is riding the wave and forming part of the training base for many MMA gyms. So Judo in Australia is getting to a point where most people will have an idea of what it is.
This growth in grassroots Judo and growth of the entire Judo community is also providing a platform for Judo athlete’s to be seen as marketable and healthy sponsor targets for companies. The more this grows, the better our results will get. If our athlete’s have support from their club, state and sponsors then they will become self-sufficient and able to be professional Judo players.
Who knows, if we can all do our bit now then perhaps in 2016 or 2020 we can see an Aussie Judoka win a Gold Medal at an Olympic Games and have the sporting public embrace our sport like they do with boring old cricket, swimming or cycling.