As my national ranking had dropped I had to wait to see if none of the other Aussies in my division planned to compete before the federation allowed me to enter and of course I received $0 of funding.
The draw for the 2010 Rio Grand Slam saw me pooled against Tsagaanbaatar of Mongolia fight 1 of the whole competition. He was only the reigning World Champion and ranked #1 on the WRL.
I gave him my best but was pretty quickly lifted with a rolling Sode Tsuri Komi Goshi and dumped for Ippon, 50 seconds in. As I walked off the mat pissed off at my efforts I looked around and realised I was the first person eliminated from the Grand Slam, every other Judoka in the hall still had a chance.
I sulked for a few days then went off to the training camp to try and win back some of my honour and manhood. I had a couple of good randori’s on the first day and was almost holding my own with the top guys. Day two I was feeling a bit tired so I decided to have a round with a local guy and he went for a wild Uchi Mata, I heard a big pop and got up feeling like I was shot. I tried to ‘walk it off’ and not whinge but the next day I went and saw the doctor. He told me I had dislocated my shoulder and he managed to almost put it back in. This was very painful and I swore a lot. Didn’t feel any better. He told me I should go home and get it properly treated. I said thankyou and went off to find a treadmill to start cutting weight for the Sao Paulo World Cup a couple of days later (cos I'm a smart guy!).
At Sao Paulo World Cup I was drawn against Revite of Brasil and I was intent on imposing myself no matter how bad my shoulder felt. After circling each other for a bit we engaged and he skipped across, turned in for Drop Seio and it was Ippon, 23 seconds!
The aftermath of this was probably the lowest I have felt in my entire Judo life.
I returned home broke (as the trip took all of my savings) and with a sublaxed shoulder. I had three weeks until Nationals and I had to win if I was to have a chance of jumping to second on our National Rankings and be eligible for Worlds. I saw a good sports physician and he prescribed me some very strong pain killers and told me the shoulder would be ‘ok’ in 5 weeks, ‘good’ in about 9, I could compete in 12 . I thanked him for his time and decided he wasn’t the boss of me, I would fight with one arm if I had to.
At Nationals I was able to get through to the final and stay out of trouble. The final saw me up against my regular rival Steven Brown and we pushed and shoved and before I knew it the match was slipping away as I was down wazari to yuko on penalties. Due to my shoulder injury my plan had been control the grips and attack enough to win on penalties, that plan was out the window and it was time for a rethink.
With about 90 seconds left I walked back to my line for a restart and made a decision in my own head. If I didn’t throw him for Ippon I was walking away from this sport. What was the point? I was broken physically, financially and it wasn’t really much fun so why bother?
I’m not saying it was a wise decision, logical or that I was even going to stand by it. But I guarantee you it was one I had made.
Next thing I knew I was ripping in for a drop seio nage and Ippon was called. Clearly the ultimatum I gave myself worked.
I was able to do some rehab after Nationals and finish the year by claiming the OJU Continental Championship, winning two fights at World Championships and a Bronze Medal at Samoa World Cup.
Throughout 2011 and what’s come in 2012 I have never forgotten Brasil. The two experiences I’ve had competing over there were polar opposites but taught me lessons about the Judo world and my own capabilities that I will never forget.
Did you miss What's with Rio? Part 1?
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