Can Ivo throw the Olympics on its head?
Making his debut as a member of the Australian Olympic Team in London, Ivo Dos Santos is aiming to become the first Australian male to medal at Olympics since 1964 in martial arts.
Migrating from Portugal to Australia when he was two years of age, Ivo has been working overtime across Europe training and competing against rivals in preparation for his maiden Olympics in London.
“Technically, my preparation commenced April 30 once my place on the Aussie Olympic team was confirmed. In saying that, I knew I was in a very safe qualifying position late last year,” Dos Santos said.
Speaking to Ivo in the lead up to the, biggest moment of his life, you get the feeling, the 26-year-old from Werribee is ready for the challenge that lies ahead.
“Winning gold at an Olympic Games would be the greatest thing in the world,” Dos Santos said.
“For an Aussie to win gold in Judo, let alone me, it would have to match-up to any Aussie sporting achievement.”
Ivo remains grounded though and is not getting ahead of himself.
“It would be a real case of David beating Goliath if I won gold.”
To give you a perspective, the Great Britain and Russian Judo Federations spent $23 million on their Olympic Teams this year.
The Judo Federation of Australia has a total budget of about $700,000. That has to cover everything from grass roots judo, through to the Olympic Team.
These figures are staggering and Ivo knows that he is up against it.
“I have to be realistic. There are 32 guys qualified for my weight and I am ranked 13. Here’s hoping it’s unlucky number 13 for my opponents”.
Judo is a sport where a match can go for five minutes or 5 seconds if you’re not careful and there are no second chances.
“I have beaten some of the guys in my draw and lost to others. It will be difficult to win my way to the medal rounds but if I have a little bit of luck and fight my absolute best, I may sneak my way into medal contention.”
It’s not hard to get excited yet feel the nerves at the same time when you speak to Ivo. You can sense some frustration though.
Sure Ivo has spent many years preparing himself for this one moment. Getting up every day, pushing his body to its absolute limits all for the Olympic dream but he is not only doing it for himself, he is doing it for the sport he is so passionate about.
“Unfortunately Judo is too low profile of a sport in Australia for financial support and sponsorship”
“I am very lucky to have a couple of sponsors who look after me with my training and competition gear but all remaining expenses occurred are still mine to bear.”
Ivo continues to look to the future and you can’t help but admire what he is trying to achieve.
“There are lots of Judo players who train just as hard as AFL players, swimmers, etc but don’t get the recognition they deserve,” Dos Santos said.
“I’m hoping if not myself, someone from our team can achieve a good result here in London and help build the Judo profile for the next generation of Judo players.”
Referring to yourself as an Olympic athlete is something very few of us will ever experience, but following Ivo in the lead up to the Games, it’s near impossible to not dream about Olympic glory.