Aussie teen strikes gold at Youth Games
JUDO: Tim Hollingbery's judo journey from smashed hallway walls in Sydney's west to the Bahamas produced Australia's first gold medal today at the Commonwealth Youth Games.
The youngster's aggressive style on the mat dealt with opponents from Mozambique and the Bahamas and was the highlight of the four-medal haul for Australia's up-and-coming jodokas.
Hollingbery, 16, made no secret of his childhood martial arts mash-ups with older brother Tom and Adam being just as important as early technical skills in building his vibe for the demanding sport.
A hole in the hallway wall at his Plumpton home is still to be fixed after one out-of-control wrestling and throwing match.
"Strangles, choke holds, smashing into walls, falling on beds ... all the fun stuff growing up gave me a liking for judo when I was finding ways to fight back against my older brothers,” Hollingbery said with a laugh.
"It's unexpected to win the gold but a great feeling and another step with experience because I'm hoping to win a spot for the 2020 Olympics.”
As impressive as Hollingbery's two wins was the manner in which he shrugged off the Australian team's travel ordeal just getting from Brisbane to Nassau, the capital of this idyllic dot in the Caribbean.
The haul stretched to 40 hours for him. A day-time delay forced a hotel stop in Los Angeles where he loaded up on two steaks and pounded the protein into his frame so he weighed in at 113kg in his +90kg division.
Teammates like Newcastle's Daniel Villani (-60kg) and Sydney's ballet-cum-judo hopeful Saskia Brothers (-57kg) endured their long airport delays on water and lettuce to make sure they met the weigh-in standards.
Canberra's Connor Smith (-90kg) and Sydney's Uros Nikolic (-73kg) won silver as did Queenslander Francis Newman (-70kg), from Bamaga in the state's far north where sensei Xavier Barker has introduced the sport to about 30 Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander teens just like her.
Smith's judo heritage is rich with mum Narelle Hill winning bronze at the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games and uncle Tom Hill striking gold at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games.
Commonwealth Youth Games team general manager Matt Cowdrey said the travel dramas had been handled well by the young team.
"The added complexities around the travel was just as we warned the team about what can happen with international competition,” Cowdrey said.
"Our young athletes showed their resilience in taxing circumstances and it's a great showing from the judo team competing on the first day of the Games.”