'Eyes on gold this time': Judo couple prepare for Commonwealth Games

Jason Koster and Moira de Villiers with their children Norah (left) and Sam at the New Zealand...
Jason Koster and Moira de Villiers with their children Norah (left) and Sam at the New Zealand Olympic Committee Judo selection announcement. Photo: Kai Schwoerer / Getty Images for NZOC
Judo is back on the schedule at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and New Zealand is sending seven judoka to Birmingham.

Christchurch-based husband and wife Jason Koster and Moira de Villiers have been selected for their second Commonwealth Games together.

De Villiers heads to the Birmingham games - which will run from July 28 to August 8 - ranked second in the Commonwealth and in hot form, having won gold at the Tunis and Algiers opens earlier this year.

She won silver at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and competed at the London 2012 Olympic Games, where she placed 17th.

Koster also returns from Glasgow 2014, where he won bronze in the under 100kg category.

"It's a dream come true," de Villiers said.

"After having my daughter four years ago, it's been a real goal to get back to the Commonwealth Games and I've got my eyes on gold this time."

She said sharing the experience with her husband would be extremely special.

"We've been on this journey together for a really long time and it's amazing to have my husband and coach right by my side."

Koster first fought for New Zealand as a 17-year-old and will head to Birmingham aged 39.

"The last 10 years has been full on and I'm ready to finish what we started and to fight for gold. To literally do this alongside my wife is so special, I couldn't ask for a better partner and I can't wait for Birmingham 2022," Koster said.

Koster will be in demand in Birmingham, as well as competing he also coaches de Villiers, Hayley Mackey (women's U78kg) and Elliott Connolly (men's U81kg) and Kody Andrews (men's +100kg) at Premiere Equipe Judo Club in Christchurch.

"To be taking a whole team is amazing, we only started this club four years ago and to now have five of us headed to Birmingham is fantastic, I don't think I could have scripted a better end to my career."

Commonwealth Games debutants Qona Christie, Mackey and Sydnee Andrews round out the women's team.

23-year-old Christie from Wellington won gold at this year's Sydney International Open, while the youngest squad member, 19-year-old Sydnee Andrews from Gisborne, won bronze at the Prague Open in early 2022.

In the men's division, Koster is joined by first time Commonwealth Games athletes Connolly and Kody Andrews.

Connolly, 28, has just returned to New Zealand after training and honing his skills in France, where judo is extremely popular.

Kody Andrews, 21, from Christchurch has enjoyed a recent return to international competition, finishing 7th at the recent Tunis Open, Algiers Open and Pan-American/Oceania Championships.

"This means a lot to me, I've been doing sport my whole life, to represent my country it's amazing. It's a moment that I'll cherish forever," Kody said.

Birmingham will be the first-time judo athletes have been in any New Zealand Games team since the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, with judo left off the programme at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The athletes will train in New Zealand, Australia and Europe prior to the Commonwealth Games.

Judo New Zealand President Derek Maggs said he was delighted to have seven athletes confirmed for the Games.

"The team is a good mix of experienced fighters and younger athletes breaking through to their first major games. We look forward to them doing well and winning some medals for New Zealand."

The naming takes the total number of athletes currently selected to the New Zealand team for Birmingham to 32.

 

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