Andrewartha looking for Rio r... | Australian Olympic Committee
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Andrewartha looking for Rio redemption

Author imageAOC18 Jul 2015
Four years on and judoka Jake Andrewartha still can't bring himself to watch the fight that forever made him an Olympian.

TAEKWONDO: Four years on and judoka Jake Andrewartha still can't bring himself to watch the fight that forever made him an Olympian.

"I can play it out enough in my head," the small-town South Australian says.

"I was a bit like a deer in the headlights."

Andrewartha's moment in London had been 14 years in the making but lasted just 24 seconds.

In one fell swoop, England's Chris Sherrington had him strangled and on his back to win the first-round match in the 100kg-plus division.

"Just hearing the roar of the crowd, you would think it would get to my opponent given he had the hometown advantage - but it actually got to me first," he recalled.

"I almost didn't quite believe I deserved to be there.

"I was quite young to qualify, especially for my division being a super heavyweight, and I still had a lot of maturing to do."

The devastation was obvious on the then 22-year-old's face as he fell to the mat, sobbing.

But he now rates it as probably the greatest learning experience of his life.

"One thing I definitely learnt was no matter how much training you do, you can never really truly be prepared for something like the Olympic Games," he said.

Andrewartha underwent a "complete overhaul" after that - changing his diet, upping his training and seeking help from a sports pyschologist.

And it eventually paid off.

He won a bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, having learnt to better balance the stresses of media, training and competition on the world stage.

"I knew what I had to do to perform on the day and not to crack under pressure," he said.

Andrewartha, in Canberra last week for an elite judo training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport, is currently ranked No.26 in the world in his weight class.

If he maintains that position or improves, he should qualify for next year's Rio Olympics.

"It's complete redemption for me," he declared.

"The one thing I was most disappointed with the London Games was not being able to show what I'm capable of. I know that's not me.

"I'm able to do so much more and I just want to be able to show the world and my country what I can do on the bigger stage.

"I want to do Australia proud, and do myself proud."

Instead of being the young and inexperienced fighter he was in 2012, Andrewartha will likely be the eldest in an expected Australian team of six in Brazil.

The 25-year-old said he was still getting used to the "old man" tag.

"But I think I can be the mature one for the team and hopefully teach the others from the personal experiences I've had, so the same thing doesn't happen to them," he said.

He is targeting a top-seven finish at the 2016 Games, and already has his eyes on future Olympic campaigns.

"I've potentially got another two in me; heavyweights don't peak until maybe their 30s - so hopefully that's the case.

"But that's easier said than done, I guess."

AAP

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