Medals proof of family's mettle

MATT RICHENS IN GLASGOW
Last updated 05:00 28/07/2014
Jason Koster and Moira de Villiers
Fairfax NZ

ONE FOR THE ALBUM: Christchurch couple Moira de Villiers, left, and Jason Koster both won judo medals. They are pictured with Jason Koster's son, Sam.

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Little Sam Koster likes Commonwealth Games medals but he would rather play trains with his father and stepmother.

The ''nearly 4''-year-old was not quite aware of the emotional rollercoaster dad Jason Koster and stepmum Moira de Villiers had been through to win their medals at the weekend, he was just happy to play with ''Daddy and Me-me''.

The Christchurch couple sacrifice plenty to chase their judo dreams including spending time - as little as possible - away from Sam.

While it was initially the disappointment of losing the gold medal match that brought de Villiers to tears on Saturday, it was for different reasons yesterday that Koster welled up.

He missed out on his 2012 Olympic dream after contracting a stomach bug the night before his final qualifying bout.

He still went to London, as de Villiers' coach, but it was not the same.

Both are desperate to get to Rio in 2016.

His only loss of this meet was to Scottish superstar and World Cup winner Euan Burton and even that was a close bout.

Koster has been through plenty in the last year and while he stoically stayed the course on his judo dream, the emotion of it all caught up with him yesterday.

''It means a lot to me,'' he said.

''This tournament was always for my family and friends. We've lost a few people over the last six to 12 months from the judo community. On a personal note, I lost one of my best friends Johnny, he took his own life in November. Prior to that we lost a young 15-year-old to cancer.''

The New Zealand judo community also lost Alister Leat, the older brother of Glasgow silver medallist Adrian, to suicide in February.

''The fact that we've got all these people back home who are wanting us to do our best just to give them a glimmer of something. It means a lot to be able to do that.''

Being able to do it all in front of his parents, Rob and Karen, made it even more special for Koster, a three-time Oceania champion who took up judo 24 years ago.

''This is the first time my parents have seen me fight outside of New Zealand,'' he said.

''And a Christchurch couple, Andrea and Shaun Eden, made it happen. We were fundraising to try and get them over here and they paid for it. They're amazing.''

Koster was highly motivated before yesterday's competition, but it might have been one more thing that gave him the edge.

''When Moira got home [Saturday], she offered to show me her medal and I just said, 'No, I don't want to see it, I'm going to get my own tomorrow'.'' 

And so he did. Koster was not the only man to medal on the final day of the judo, Auckland's Tim Slyfield also grabbed a bronze in the same under 100kg weight class.

The pair stood on the dais with very different paths in front of them.Koster, like de Villiers, is full-speed ahead to the Olympics while Slyfield, who doubles as athlete and the sport's high performance manager, has ended his career.

It is his third retirement but the 39-year-old insisted it would be his last.

He came out of retirement in 2002 to win a bronze at the Manchester Commonwealth Games then again for this meet.  

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New Zealand won five medals on the judo mat in Glasgow, two silvers (de Villiers and Leat) and three bronzes (Koster, Slyfield and Gisborne's Darcina Manuel), equalling the haul from Auckland in 1990

- The Press

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