Olympic miss lights Jason Koster's flame

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 07/03/2014
Jason Koster
Fairfax NZ
OWN RIGHT: Canterbury judoka Jason Koster wants to get to Glasgow as a competitor not a coach as he was at the London Olympics for Moira de Villiers.

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Dodgy food gave Jason Koster a year's worth of heartache.

Hours before his final qualifying tournament for the 2012 London Olympics, Christchurch judoka Koster ate something that left him in a miserable state and cost him a spot in the New Zealand team.

As if the short-term effects following the incident at the Oceania championships in Cairns weren't bad enough - vomiting, diarrhoea and dehydration - Koster also had to negotiate his share of psychological battles over the following 12 months.

Now he says that experience has steeled his resolve to compete at this year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and push through to the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

He hoped the 2012 Oceanias would be his ticket to London, helping him realise a dream he has chased for eight years.

Instead there was immense frustration and anger: "It was heart-breaking; there were a lot of ups and downs in that time," Koster said.

"I am philosophical about it now but if you had asked me about it six months ago I would have still been pretty upset."

The 30-year-old still doesn't know what made him so crook.

He just remembers feeling queasy, then being violently ill, getting an injection and pills to keep his constitution under control and sleeping between fights.

"It did take me a good year to get over that and afterwards it was just a case of taking each tournament as it comes. I have found that is better for my psychology to do that.

"I got a taste that was bitter-sweet. The good thing is that it has really re-invigorated me to really want to stick around for the next Olympics."

Koster still travelled to London to coach New Zealand women's competitor, Moira de Villiers, but was disappointed he wasn't competing instead.

Now Koster, who works as a personal trainer, has the Commonwealth Games in his sights. Despite the pre-Olympics setback he never considered ditching the sport he has spent around 22 years competing in.

The chances, barring injury or illness, are very good that Koster will qualify to represent New Zealand in Glasgow - barring another bout of food poisoning or injury.

Koster, whose world ranking hovers around 18th, hopes to secure his heavyweight spot at the Oceanias in Auckland in April.

Recently he was shortlisted as the Canterbury sportsman and coach of the year, the latter was for helping revive the sport in province after the earthquakes.

A national training camp was held in Kaiapoi earlier this month as the coaches and selectors continue to monitor who could qualify for Glasgow. National womens' coach Naomi Spinks was hopeful seven men and five women would qualify.

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"We are wanting to put forward athletes we think will be on the podium. We don't want to waste anyone's time by sending someone who is not capable of reaching that level," Spinks said.

"We are conscious of that and the athletes know they have to meet that requirement."

- Fairfax Media

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