Geelong judoka Jake Bensted is hoping 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 selected to represent Australia at the Birmingham Games 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 already participated in the 2014 Games in Glasgow at the age of 20, where he won a bronze medal.
The sport was included in the 2018 Games on the Gold Coast.
Bensted said it was exciting to have another chance to compete at the highest level, having also represented Australia at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“It’s a very exciting opportunity to be chosen to compete in Birmingham,” he said.
“I had the opportunity to go to the Commonwealth Games in 2014 when I was quite young and early in my judo career, now I’m in the twilight of my career and I’ve learned a lot since then.
“I think 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 move past the bronze medal that I have. won in 2014.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic has meant the lead to the Games has not been ideal, Bensted said his form is “coming back”.
“It’s been tough, because I haven’t been able to compete much in the last year,” he said.
“We weren’t able to start competing until the international borders really reopened, so that was November.”
His selection to the team was based on results from tournaments in Europe, as well as locally, including a win at the Melbourne International Open in March.
With just over two months until the opening ceremony, Bensted said he hoped to have a few more tournaments under his belt before the Games.
“We have the national championships coming up in about three weeks on the Gold Coast,” he said.
“Then I go to Europe with the team for a training camp and maybe get a tournament or two before we head 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 play a sport,” he said.
“There were no freestyle clubs in Geelong but there was a judo club, so we joined and I’ve been with them ever since.
“I love the ups and downs of judo – there are times when you can have really good days and then there are times when you lose your first fight in a tournament and you feel really down.
“But I had some of the best experiences of my life on the mat and I love it.”
Haecker, Aofie Coughlan, Tinka Easton, Abigail Paduch, Harrison Cassar, brothers Josh and Nathan Katz, Uros Nikolic, Kayhan Ozcicek-Takagi, Liam Park and Sebastian Temesi will join Bensted in the Australian judo squad.
Judo Australia chief executive Emma Taylor said the team will compete with pride and passion in Birmingham.
“Congratulations to our judo athletes selected to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham,” said Taylor.
“These athletes embody the values of our sport and proudly wear the Australian flag.
“Their commitment to the sport, their clubs and their coaches is recognized in this selection and we know they will make us proud.”