Koster and de Villiers well motivated for Games
MATT RICHENS IN GLASGOW
A dodgy meal the night before his final qualification event cost Christchurch judoka Jason Koster the chance to compete at the London Olympics, but he doesn't have a monopoly on motivation in his house.
Koster coaches partner and fellow Kiwi Commonwealth Games medal hopeful Moira de Villiers. Koster, 31, did go to the London Games, but only as de Villiers' coach and the bitter-sweet journey only fuelled his fire to get to Rio.
However, the 24-year-old de Villiers, who was a first round loser in London, is equally desperate to get to Rio to overcome her demons. The next step on that road is the Glasgow Games where they are considered two of the 10-strong judo team's better medal prospects.
Both said they're in the form of their lives and hoping to kick-start their road to Rio at golden Glasgow.
"I feel the fittest I've ever been, even more than in London," de Villiers said. "I learnt a lot there about what it takes and I hope to put that all into action here. It's not going to be easy, I know that, but I'm here to do my best to win."
For Koster, it's a chance to shake the final remnants of his London disappointment. "It was, shall we say, a very, very challenging 6-12 months," he said.
"You spend your life aiming for something and go through lots of ups and down, you get yourself in the best position and then it doesn't happen. You wake up the next morning and think 'now what'?"
Koster contemplated giving competing away to focus on coaching de Villiers.
"But I had a great support network of friends and family and I also think I learnt a fair bit. I'm a better athlete and a better person because of what happened. What do they say, 'experience is what you get when you don't get what you want'."
He was "quietly confident" of a good showing in Glasgow, but was hesitant of talking up his chances too much.
"That's the hard one with judo, anyone can win on the day, at the Olympics in my weight class the No 1 seed lost in the first round."
Should Koster win a gold, he'd break the heart of the home nation. Scotland's golden boy and flag bearer Euan Burton is using the Games as his swan-song.
De Villiers is coming off New Zealand's first medal in Europe in more than two years and second in 10 years, a bronze in Germany earlier this month. Far from being happy, the South African-born Kiwi was disappointed, but using the event and result as another motivator.
"I wasn't that happy, I lost to someone who was a whole class below me. All because of a silly mistake. But that's done, I've learnt from that too and I'm ready to go here." Koster calls his charge "the best judoka in the country".
"She has the results on paper to back that up too, but I guess I'm a little biased.
"We've given up too much to go out there and not win." There's even more reason for Koster to dominate on the judo mat; despite him fighting for most of his life, his parents have never seen him fight live outside of New Zealand.
De Villiers mother Michele has seen her daughter plenty and has even volunteered at international events so she can watch. She will be in the crowd as will Koster's parents and three-year-old son Sam. "It's great for me," Koster said.
"If it wasn't for all the support I've had from family and friends, I'm not sure I would have still been competing. So to have them here is really special. And it would be great for Sam to see his dad and step mum win a medal."
De Villiers is in action tomorrow night while Koster's games start on Saturday.
- The Press