Husband and wife judoka Jason Koster and Moira de Villiers are set to relive a dream as they head to their second Commonwealth Games together.
The Christchurch based pair are two of seven judo athletes named to the New Zealand Team today. The athletes are:
- Qona Christie – Women’s U57kg
- Moira de Villiers – Women’s U78kg
- Hayley Mackey – Women’s U78kg
- Sydnee Andrews – Women’s +78kg
- Elliott Connolly – Men’s U81kg
- Jason Koster – Men’s U100kg
- Kody Andrews – Men’s +100kg
Moira de Villiers (Christchurch) heads to the Games ranked second in the Commonwealth and in hot form, having won gold at the Tunis and Algiers Opens in early 2022.
De Villiers won silver at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and competed at the London 2012 Olympic Games, where she placed 17th.
Her husband Jason Koster (Christchurch) also returns from Glasgow 2014, where he won bronze in the under 100kg category.
“It’s a dream come true,” said de Villiers. “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 says sharing the experience with her husband will 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.
“It’s been a long journey for me,” said Koster. “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 will be in demand in Birmingham, as well as competing he also coaches Moira, Hayley, Elliott and Kody 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, Hayley 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, Jason Koster is joined by first time Commonwealth Games athletes Elliott Connolly and Kody Andrews. 28-year-old Connolly has just returned to New Zealand after training and honing his skills in France, where judo is extremely popular.
His teammate 21-year-old Kody Andrews 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,” said Kody.
It’s 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.
NZOC CEO Nicki Nicol extended her congratulations to the athletes.
“It’s fantastic to have judo back at the Commonwealth Games and we’re thrilled to name such a strong team,” said Nicol.
“I wish the athletes all the best for the rest of their preparation, we look forward to watching them represent New Zealand in just over two months’ time.”
Judo New Zealand President Derek Maggs says he’s delighted to have seven athletes confirmed for Birmingham.
“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 2022 to 32.