Reaching the highest levels of sport doesn’t come without sacrifice, but for judo brothers Josh and Nathan Katz, the sacrifice is tempered by knowing they don’t have to do it alone.
“It can be really lonely at times, especially in an individual sport where we spend so many months, sometimes a year, on the road,” Younger brother Josh said.
“But having somebody that is going through a lot of the same experiences, there with you on the great days and they're with you on the really bad days is a really special thing that I think we're both really grateful for.”
The support system came into force at the Tokyo Olympic. While the pair made history as the first Australian brothers to both qualify for the Games in Rio in 2016, Josh had to cheer Nathan on from the family’s living during the Covid delayed 2020 Games after missing out on selection.
“Post-Tokyo was the lowest point in Josh's career and the biggest disappointment for him,” Nathan said.
“I was really grateful to be able to be there for him when it wasn't going well, even though it was a good period for me. We had shared so much of that journey together and I understood what he was going through, even though it was different to my own journey. I think just having that support is really, really special and connects really well to what the whole Win Well Strategy is all about.”
ABOUT WIN WELL:
The Katz brother’s balance between life and sport, and their desire to help each other succeed epitomises Australian high performance sport system’s united pledge to win well.
The pledge to win well, which is the foundation to Australia’s High Performance 2032+ Sport Strategy, is based on the belief that how we win is just as important as when we win and that ambitious performance goals must be balanced with a culture that promotes integrity, fair play, and the emotion, physical and mental wellbeing of all in sport.
There have been plenty of good times too for the brothers, including August 2, 2022, in Birmingham, a day which saw the brothers both win bronze medals in quick succession.
“It's a real rollercoaster, competing so closely with each other,” Nathan said. “I think I fought for a medal at the Commonwealth Games 20 minutes after Josh had just won bronze, so there's a little bit of pressure on me to live up to what Little Brother manages to do.”
Josh added: “I was probably a lot more nervous for Nathan than I was for myself in Birmingham. After I won bronze, the officials would try to herd me into like the ceremony area, but I sprinted up into the stands and was just screaming from the stands for about ten minutes and probably made a fool of myself. It was it was a great day.
“It's not often that we get to both have an amazing result together on the same day, so it was nice that we managed to have that moment together, and also with our whole family who were over there in Birmingham. It’s probably one of my most special memories."
The brothers will once again be together in the lead-up to Paris, although the dynamic has changed since Nathan announced his retirement in late 2023.
“I'm one of Josh's coaches now, which is an interesting dynamic because normally it's him telling me what to do.” Nathan said.
“It's just really one more person yelling at me and tell me what to do on the side of the mat.” Josh said. “But really I’m grateful that Nathan is still so passionate about wanting to help me get to Paris and getting the best result for me.” “I’m lucky to have one more person that knows me probably better than anyone.”
Want to hear more stories about how our Australian athletes are bringing the pledge to win well to life? Click here to meet cricketer Usman Khawaja and how win well helps him to be his best both on and off the field.
You can also make your own commitment to win well but signing the pledge here.