Bronze medalist picked for second Commonwealth Games

Jake Bensted (Commonwealth Games Australia) 281800_01

Ash Bolt

Geelong judoka Jake Bensted is hoping to above and beyond his bronze medal when he gets his second chance to compete at the Commonwealth Games later this year.

On Wednesday Bensted was announced as one of 12 judokas picked to represent Australia at the Games in Birmingham in July and August.

The selection makes Bensted, along with teammate Katharina Haecker, the first Australian judoka to be selected for multiple Commonwealth Games.

He previously competed at the 2014 Games in Glasgow as a 20-year-old, where he won a bronze medal.

The sport was included in the 2018 Games on the Gold Coast.

Bensted said it was exciting to get another chance to compete at the highest level, after also representing Australia at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“It’s a very exciting opportunity to be picked to compete in Birmingham,” he said.

“I had the opportunity to go to the Commonwealth Games in 2014 when I was quite young and at the start of my judo career, now I’m in the twilight of my career and I’ve learned a lot since then.

“I thinking having been there and knowing what to expect, as well as having gone to the Olympics in 2016, gives me more confidence in my ability to go above the bronze medal I won in 2014.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has meant the lead into the Games hasn’t been ideal, Bensted said his form was “coming back”.

“It’s been tough, because I haven’t been able to compete a lot in the past year or so,” he said.

“We were only able to start competing when the international borders reopened really, so that was November.”

His selection in the team was based off results in tournaments in Europe, as well as locally, which included a win at the Melbourne International Open in March.

With just over two months until the opening ceremony, Bensted said he hoped to get a few more tournaments under his belt before the Games.

“We’ve got the National Championships coming up in about three weeks on the Gold Coast,” he said.

“Then I’m off to Europe with the team for a training camp and maybe I’ll get a tournament or two in before we head over to Birmingham.”

The sport is a family affair for Bensted, who was introduced to it by his father and uncle.

“My dad and uncle were freestyle wrestlers and they wanted us to take up a sport,” he said.

“There were no freestyle wrestling clubs in Geelong but there was a judo club, so we joined and I’ve stayed with it since.

“I love the highs and lows of judo – there’s time where you can have really good days and then there’s times where you’ll lose your first fight at a tournament and you feel really down.

“But I’ve had some of the best experiences of my life on the mat and I love it.”

Joining Bensted in Australia’s judo team will be Haecker, Aofie Coughlan, Tinka Easton, Abigail Paduch, Harrison Cassar, brothers Josh and Nathan Katz, Uros Nikolic, Kayhan Ozcicek-Takagi, Liam Park and Sebastian Temesi.

Judo Australia chief executive Emma Taylor said the team would compete with pride and passion in Birmingham.

“Congratulations to our judo athletes selected to represent Australia at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games,” Taylor said.

“These athletes embody the values of our sport and they carry the Australian flag with pride.

“Their commitment to the sport, their clubs and coaches is recognised in this selection and we know they will make us proud.”