BUENOS AIRES: Rhys Allan and Saskia Brothers have been selected as Australia's judo contingent for the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games, bringing Australia's total to 65 young athletes across 22 sports.
Allan says earning his spot at YOG was "hard fought…literally" having to climb a long ladder of opponents.
"After a couple of months competing in Europe and at the Continental Championships, I was sitting at ninth on the YOG ranking table and I knew to directly qualify for a place at Buenos Aires, I needed to get into the top five," the Perth local said.
"I had to watch other competitors earn their valuable points, while I waited for my chance to compete in Asia at the last two YOG qualifying events.
"I managed to win both Asian Cups and directly qualify as number two on the YOG ranking system.
"Hearing the Australian National Anthem played as I stood on the podium and knowing I had earnt my place to represent my country at YOG, was the best feeling in the world," he said.
The 17-year-old ex-rugby player amassed an astounding eight gold, one silver and two bronze medals on his path to YOG qualification. He did this over various national and international U18 and U21 competitions throughout the year.
Fifteen-year-old Brothers' qualification journey was equally impressive.
"I won gold at the Oceania Continental Championships, which gave me valuable points towards my World Ranking, then after winning the Junior National Championships in June, I was selected to compete in Honk Kong and Macau at two International and Youth Olympic Ranking events," she said.
"I was fortunate enough to medal in both events and the points I received ranked me as the highest female competitor in my age group."
Even though Brothers has found great success as a judoist, fighting wasn't her first love.
Originally, the Castle Hill teenager was a ballet dancer, beginning classical ballet as a two-year-old, she then followed in her second dan black-belted grandfather's footsteps and took up judo when she was five.
Brothers believes that classical ballet laid the foundations for her judo success, by teaching her core strength, balance and flexibility which she has transferred into her judo regime.
Impressively, she has not given up ballet, in fact, she juggles both judo, ballet and school.
"Time management is important, my week generally consists of seven hours of classical ballet classes and seven and a half hours of judo per week after school and sometimes back-to-back," she said.
With such a busy schedule, finding enjoyment in your sport is paramount. Brothers says her favourite part about judo is the friends she's been able to make along the way, both nationally and internationally.
For Allan, friendships are a great bonus, but it's the highs and lows of competition that give him the most motivation.
"Judo is a way of life for me and for anyone else who participates in the sport. It builds character and you create strong bonds with each other because we can relate on a different level that we can't do outside of judo.
"I'm addicted to the high emotions and feelings you get after winning a big tournament or medalling. It keeps me hungry to train and put in that extra effort to experience that feeling again."
You can learn more about Rhys and Saskia HERE
Selected Australian athletes for Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games - Judo
Rhys Allan (17), Perth WA
Saskia Brothers (15), Castle Hill, NSW