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Aussie Judokas ready to compete in the birthplace of Judo

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The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has named Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games team member Katharina Haecker and Aoife Coughlan as the two judokas on to Australian Olympic Team for Tokyo.

Glasgow 2014 team member Katharina Haecker is heading to her second Olympic Games after being selected along with Olympic debutant Aoife Coughlan to represent the green and gold in Japan.

With the selection of Haecker, the number of Commonwealth Games Australia alumni heading to Tokyo is 122 team members.

The sport of Judo, which returns to the Commonwealth Games sport programme at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games for its fourth appearance at the Games, was founded in Japan and the competition will be held at the Nippon Budokan – the same venue Judo made its Olympic debut in 1964.

Haecker will be competing in the -63kg division, continuing a historic few years for the judoka, winning 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 makes her Olympic debut in the -70kg division, off the back of a bronze in the recent Asia-Oceania Championships and a top-eight finish in the world championships.

 

Haecker was thrilled to return to the Olympic arena in the home of her sport.

“I‘m honoured to be part of such an 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. 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.”

Coughlan delivered an extraordinary performance in the recent IJF World Championships to earn her place in the team, finishing seventh after winning a gruelling 12 minute 50 second fight in golden score, more than three times the regulation time for a judo fight.

“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.

“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.

“It’s exciting to be competing in a venue that holds a lot of history for my sport and having competed at Nippon Budokan once before it is a fitting venue the return of the Olympic judo competition to Japan.

“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.”

The team will be coached by national head coach Daniel Kelly, the first Australian judoka to compete at four Olympics (2000-2012).

Chef de Mission of the Australian Olympic Team Ian Chesterman welcomed the athletes to the Australian Olympic Team.

“Congratulations to Aoife on making her Olympic debut and Katharina on her return to the Australian Olympic Team for her second Games,” Mr Chesterman said.

“Competing in the birthplace of the sport, in the same venue that hosted the Olympic debut back in 1964 will provide a special experience for our Australian judokas. I know they will represent Australia with pride.

“While both Aoife and Katharina are training and competing overseas, I’m sure their family, friends, teammates, coaches, supporters and everyone at Judo Australia is celebrating this Olympic milestone.

“Thank you to everyone at Judo Australia for your ongoing support of all your athletes and helping Aoife and Katharina be ready to compete on the world’s biggest sporting stage.”

The Judo competition in Tokyo will run from 24-31 July at the Nippon Budokan.

Australian Olympic Judo Team

Name Event Age State Olympic Games Experience Commonwealth Games Experience
Aoife Coughlin Women's -70kg 25 VIC Debut
Katharina Haecker Women's -63kg 33 NSW 2nd (2016) 2014 - Women's 63kg

With thanks Australian Olympic Committee and Judo Australia.

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