Commonwealth Games Australia has selected a squad of 12 judokas to be bold, brave and brilliant at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Australia has welcomed nine debutants into its team of 11 for the Judo competition at Birmingham 2022.
It will be just the fourth occasion where the sport will feature in the Commonwealth Games, following Auckland 1990, Manchester 2002 and Glasgow 2014.
Returning for their second campaign at the event will be Victorians Katharina Haecker and Jake Bensted, both of whom took part in the Scottish capital eight years ago.
The Geelong based Benstead claimed bronze in the men’s lightweight division in Glasgow, while Haecker finished in fourth place in the women’s half-middleweight category.
Both will compete in the same events at Birmingham 2022 and will become the first Australian judokas to compete at two Commonwealth Games.
The other three females in the squad are Aofie Coughlan, competing in the women’s middleweight, Tinka Easton in the half-lightweight and Abigail Paduch who will ply her trade in the heavyweight.
Josh and Nathan Katz, brothers from the Greater Western Sydney suburb of Northmead, will join a long list of siblings to compete for Australia within the Commonwealth Movement.
Josh will compete in the men’s extra-lightweight, while Nathan will strive for gold in the half-lightweight category.
Joining Bensted in the men’s squad is Kayhan Ozcicek-Takagi, who was born in Sydney but grew up in Japan, will compete in his first Commonwealth Games for Australia after taking out citizenship.
Serbian-born Uros Nikolic was a silver medallist for Australia at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas in 2017 and is aiming to better that result as an adult.
Harry Cassar, from Dromana, is an animal lover and movie buff and one of the 10 judo selections making their Commonwealth Games debut. Cassar’s fellow Victorian, Liam Park, rounds out the Australian contingent.
Australian judokas have enjoyed a stellar start to the 2022 season with Josh Katz joining Haecker, Coughlan, Ozcicek-Takagi and Easton in winning bronze in the mixed team event at the PanAmerican-Oceania championships in Lima, Peru.
The nation has won a staggering 18 medals from just three previous judo competitions, and these 12 judokas will look to become the country’s first gold medallist in the sport since Maria Pekli and Tom Hill saluted in Manchester 2002.