Pavlinic's focus still centres on Olympic tilt
A fractured skull stole the Olympic dreams of Hamilton judoka Ivica Pavlinic, but the 24-year-old is fighting back.
Pavlinic suffered the serious injury when attacked from behind in town in the early hours of January 21 last year. It ruled him out for 14 months and destroyed his hopes of representing New Zealand at the London Olympics.
However, Pavlinic has bounced back to form, winning silver in the under-81kg category in Christchurch at the national championships last weekend, and now wants to reset his aims for the future.
"Now I'm looking at the next four years, and trying to go to the 2016 Olympics," Pavlinic said.
The immediate big goal is the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, with Pavlinic planning to do his utmost over the next year to qualify to compete.
"I have to be in the top-six among the Commonwealth country fighters. If I can get overseas for a long period of time, that's realistic."
To bolster his chances, Pavlinic - who last week graduated from Waikato University with a Bachelor of Science degree - wants to be based in Europe next year.
"There's pretty much a competition there every week that has world ranking points available, and the same with regular training camps."
Pavlinic admitted he battled at times to overcome the despondency which followed his injury last year. "It wasn't great," he acknowledged.
"It got quite depressing at times as I wasn't self-dependent. I wasn't able to drive, things like that were hard to deal with.
"But you've got to stay positive . . . I'm alive. It could have been a lot worse."
The Croatian-born fighter initially wanted to continue competing despite his injury.
"I was pretty adamant to just keep going, but the doctor said ‘no, you can damage yourself badly'."
Pavlinic did do what he could to maintain his base level of fitness, but couldn't do judo or heavy weights.
"As I got healthier I increased my workloads and felt fine. I won my first competition back, at the East Coast Open in March, and while that wasn't a big event it did help my confidence.
"My judo hadn't got worse - I was doing a lot of low-impact technical stuff while injured that actually made me better, but I wasn't judo-hardened as it's a real tough sport, so I picked up a lot of knocks when I first got back."
Pavlinic, sponsored by Lawrenson Group, was third at the Oceania champs in April and won his class at the Auckland invitational in June.
This weekend he heads to a training camp in Canberra at the Australian Institute of Sport with the Australian national team and then to the World Cup event in Samoa.