Total focus on Glasgow gold
Ten years ago, on a trip with the Nelson and Motueka judo clubs, Mark Brewer recognised he wanted to win gold. The goal is now in sight with his selection to the Commonwealth Games team.
Brewer was in Auckland on one of his first trips away to train and compete when he realised he had the ability and motivation to chase a Commonwealth medal.
The Motueka man, now 24 and living in Sydney, said he had always been captivated by the sport. He remembered wanting desperately to get out on the mat when watching his older brother train at the Motueka club.
When he was 8 he got his chance. He continued with the sport while at Motueka High School "as cross training for rugby". In the years that followed, judo became his focus and the sport has taken him around the world.
Pursuing his passion took him out of Motueka as Brewer sought the very best instruction and top competition after finishing school in 2008. He lived and trained in Japan, Germany and Scotland, just three of the near-40 countries he has visited while training and competing.
Now living in Sydney, Brewer coaches the New South Wales University team and works part-time as a personal trainer. He said he finds the balance works well, allowing him to maintain a fulltime training programme, one that is about to get more intense, with a silver fern on his chest and gold on his mind.
"It was a good feeling [being selected for the Games in Glasgow this July]. I secured confirmation that all the hard work has paid off to this point," said Brewer.
"But there is still hard work to be done. My main goal and focus is a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
"It always has been my aim, ever since I was 14 or 15. Training and competing with the best in New Zealand, I realised I had the potential to take it to that level, and that has always been my goal since that stage. I left Motueka to pursue that goal."
Fighting in the 81kg class, Brewer is the current New Zealand No 1, has been since 2012 and is ranked fourth in the Commonwealth. At the 2012 OJU World Cup he placed third and improved that to second in 2013.
He was the Oceania champion in 2012 but couldn't compete last year. So instead he took up a coaching role where, among others, he mentored three competitiors from Nelson; Nayland College's Finn Sweetman, Nelson College for Girls student Keegan Elmers and individual gold medallist Louise Kelly of Nelson College for Girls.
Whenever he is home, he always finds time to return to the Motueka dojo where it all started under the tutelage of Paul Taylor and Richard Horrell.
Brewer said that was where he developed his skill, love of the sport and motivation to succeed.
"I have always enjoyed the sport. It is the ultimate challenge, where you have an opponent in front of you and you have to better them and better yourself.
"The sport has the most widespread medal tally at the Olympic Games, so it is very popular around the world. So there is a world circuit which I am involved in and I have been lucky enough to travel to these competitions around the world on that circuit."
Nine of the 11 judoka who will represent New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow are ranked inside the top three in the Commonwealth.
With a team made up of seven men and four women, New Zealand Judo coach Robert Levy said several athletes were in medal contention.
"Three of our athletes are permanently based offshore and have been travelling extensively to ensure they are best placed for competition in Glasgow," he said.
The team will take part in a final training camp in New Zealand this weekend prior to heading for Europe and a camp in the Netherlands ahead of the Commonwealth Games on July 23.
Brewer wished to thank his community for all the support over the years and hoped they would continue to follow his progress on Facebook as he builds towards the games on facebook.com/MarkBrewerJudo.
- The Nelson Mail