The Australian Judo team has been announced for Tokyo 2020, with two athletes making up the team who will return to the spiritual birthplace of the sport and will compete in Nippon Budokan, the same venue Judo made its Olympic debut in 1964.
The team will feature Katharina Haecker who will be returning for her second games, competing in the 63kg division and debutant Aoife Coughlan who will compete in the 70kg division.
Haecker is Australia’s first-ever medallist on the International Judo Federation Grand Slam Series in 2018 and the first Australian to win a Judo Grand Prix gold medal in 2020 in Tel Aviv.
Coughlan also has an impressive resume winning bronze in the Asia-Oceania Championships earlier this year and had a top-eight finish in the World Championships last month.
Adding to Australia’s impressive Judo team, they will be coached by four-time Olympian Dan Kelly who represented Australia at the Olympics between 2000 to 2012. Kelly comes with a wealth of experience performing on the biggest stage and competing against the best having also fought in MMA for the UFC where he retired with a 13-4 record.
Haecker was thrilled to be returning to the birthplace of the sport and to be doing alongside Coughlan.
“I‘m honoured to be part of such a great Australian team,” Haecker said.
“Judo is returning home, it’s such an honour to be part of that and it will be very special to compete at the Nippon Budokan.”
“I’m especially proud of my teammate Aoife qualifying for her first Olympics – her dedication and hard work is inspiring.
“My goal is to perform at my best, fully hearted without holding anything back. The dream of an Olympic medal is a big one, but I‘m certain that each one of us is ready to take on this dream.
“Becoming an Olympian has been a goal of mine since a young age and I’m excited and proud to represent Australia at the Games.”
With an already stellar 2021 campaign for Coughlan, she is hoping to continue that momentum into Tokyo.
“Becoming an Olympian has been a goal of mine since a young age and I’m excited and proud to represent Australia at the Games,” Coughlan said.
“Having had some strong performances in the last six months including top eight at the World Championships recently, my goal for Tokyo is to at least match that if not better.”
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Inspiring the next generation of Australia Juokas is also a driving force for both athletes.
“I want Australians to see some great fights and hopefully there are some kids who fall in love with the sport like I did when I watched my first Olympics,” said Haecker
“Judo is a small sport in Australia, and I want the younger generation to see that anything is possible if you believe in yourself and are willing to put the work in,” said Coughlan.
CEO of Judo Australia Emma Taylor praised both athletes for their dedication and hard work leading to the games.
“We are thrilled that Aoife and Katharina will be representing us in Tokyo,” Taylor said.
“We’re so proud of the commitment they have made and the way they have represented Judo Australia on their path to the Olympic Games.
“It has been a challenging landscape for athletes to make it to these Games, and Aoife and Katharina have demonstrated incredible determination and resilience to earn their place on the team.
“They will be tremendous ambassadors for judo in Australia, and we are all looking forward to watching them compete on the highest stage.”
This is the first time Australia has sent an all-women’s Judo team to the Olympics.
Australian Judo Team
|Katharina Haecker||63kg||Second Games- Rio 2016|
The Judo competition in Tokyo will run from 24-31 July at the Nippon Budokan.
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