Monday, March 24, 2008

OLYMPIC Quest alive

The 2008 OJU Olympic selection for the Australian Judo team was finalised on the 21st Mach in NZ Christchurch.

Olympic hopeful and Illawarra martial arts champion Mick Cutajar contested the under 100kg division against the Oceania best athletes also trying to qualify. The division was a cutthroat on the points for both Mick and fellow Australian Matt Celotti from Victoria with the inclusion of the current world cup champion Andrew Pragnell & Jason coster both from NZ standing in there way.

Cutajar placed 2nd at the OJU championships & is now in 2nd place for the Olympic team and will be placed as a reserve in the event that the nominated player is unable to fulfill the commitments. The OJU Judo officials and selectors have now taken notice of his abilities and what he is capable of.

The draw consisted of 8 players and draws were handed out the day before with Cutajar securing a good place in the first round against Eric Jose from Guma throwing him with ippon in 1min 30 sec to move into the 2nd round to face off against the current world cup champion.

Cutajar had hoped that both Celotti and Pragnell would suffer losses in there first round to keep them out of reach for Olympic points, however both playerswon there round 1 contest moving to the 2nd round where Cutajar caused the biggest upset of the contest by beating current NZ national champion and current world cup champion in what was one of the most physical bouts of the day with both players exchanging hard attacks including head clashes, the NZ papers in Christchurch reinstated this loss as well. Cutajar said “ Pragnell is in the top 15 in the EJU world ranking and is a strong physical

player,.. he causes players to panic, and stumble and then he moves in,.. at one stage he attacked me so hard we both flew off the mat and into the big TV screen that is used as a score board causing it to smash, after this it was time to lift it up a notch and with this I was able to block out several of his attacks and counter him with a leg reap to throw him heavily to the ground,...cutajar said after landing on Pragnell he seemed dazed and unsure of what had happen,....and the placed a hold on him to win the fight and move to the final and play off for the gold medal and Olympic selection.

With celotti wining his 2ndround now moving to the final to also contest the gold. Cutajar said that for the 4hr break from his last fight he had plenty of time to weigh up all the training and all the possibilities that lay ahead. He saidwithout a doubt so much was running through my head, this was it,... this was the final of all finals, I can go to the Olympics”,..there wasn't a single minute that my what would be future didn't flash before me, its was difficult to not contemplate the what if.

FINALS ,...The first few seconds was a test of strengths with Cutajar securing a yuko (6pts) first, causing Celotti to pick it up a level, they exchanged attacks and counter attacks for almost 1min 30 sec, with Celotti securing a 5pointer against Cutajar who stepped out side the mat area, but still leading, then both attacked a gain with Celotti getting an inside leg to throw Cutajar who turned in mid air to counter, but was to late having 8pts scored against him, now Cutajar was forced to play catch up for the last 1minute as several strong attacks were blocked and Cutajar losing the gold medal to place 2nd in the Oceania and a very close 2nd for the Olympic selection.

Cutajar said after the fight, "Mat is a great young player, he forced me to conseed the penalty, I did my best against the best that were in the running for the Olympic team, I Played my best judo I have ever played and at the same time gained the respect of the judo world, these guys are aged between 20 & 28 years of age. I have sealed a reserve position if anything happens to Mat and he is unable to compete I will be included in the Olympic team. I though being my birthday it would happen but the better player won, it was the most technical, physical judo I have ever played."

For the future, Cutajar also said that after placing 2ndat Olympic selection he had created history (coming from prison to make the final qualifying event for the Olympic games) and having spoken to several senior members on his future as being a very strong chance for representation, had only reinforced his decision to take a small break from the major international level events so he can set out to retrial from mid 2010,....adding this would only be possible if financial backing was made available and would consider any offer that would be placed before him, adding,... its not out of my reach to make the Olympics, my past contest stats have improved over the past 5 years with rankings in the top 50 in the world,...

I just need people to believe in me and help me reach the events that help qualify for the Olympic teams, I feel great with my outcome ,...I think its a matter of a good backer to aid this quest. I will be speaking to my manager and media personal to see just how to approach this and make the step easy. What my current sponsors have given already had got me to where we are now. It would be 100% better to live and breath as an athlete instead of trying to obtain employments to help out for all the other living duties that sports is not paying for.