Coughlan’s Olympic focus

Aoife Coughlan (Supplied)

Tara Murray

It’s a family affair for Aoife Coughlan as she aims for glory at her second Olympic Games.

Coughlan, who competed at the Tokyo Games, was confirmed as a two-time Olympian on Friday after being selected for the 70 kilograms women’s event.

“It’s very exciting to have qualified for my second Olympic Games,” she said.

“Every time I step on the mat with Aus on my back is a privilege and to be able to do it twice now on the highest stage of world sport is something special.

“Qualifying for Tokyo was extremely difficult with COVID and although this Olympic cycle has still been very hard it has thankfully been a bit less of a bumpy road.”

After making the round of 16 at Tokyo, Coughlan has put herself into a good position heading into these Games.

The Resilience Training Centre athlete is ranked number seven in the world. One of the highlights since the last Olympics was winning gold at the Commonwealth Games, which has given Coughlan plenty of confidence.

“My performances over the past two years have shown that I’m absolutely capable of standing on that podium come comp day,” she said.

“Winning the Commonwealth Games plus my other podium performances over the past two years absolutely gives me confidence in my abilities. It shows that I am able to perform on bigger stages and under pressure.

“As long as I perform in a way that does all of the hard work I’ve put in justice, I’ll be satisfied regardless of the outcome.”

Not surprisingly, Coughlan will be surrounded by family at the Games.

Her parents met doing judo in university in Ireland and when they moved to Australia they happened to move to a town that had a club nearby.

Coughlan’s brother Eoin competed at the Olympics in 2016 and her sister, Maeve, is one of her main training partners.

“I officially started when I was about five but can remember being the annoying toddler running around getting under all of the adults’ feet before that,” she said.

“Having the family connection to judo definitely drew me to continue the sport. I’m extremely lucky to have a family that understands what I’m doing and supports me unconditionally without pressuring me.

“My parents are amazing and have put so much into allowing me to pursue my sporting career.

“Having my brother and sister on this journey with me is so special.

“My brother Eoin has always been a role model to me, his work ethic is something I strive to emulate.

“My sister Maeve is one of my main training partners and she keeps me accountable and we push each other to be better every day. I hope I’m as good a role model for her as our brother is. “I’m hoping we can qualify together for LA 2028.”

Among those making the trip to watch her in Paris, is her nana who is in her 90s.

“I know she’s very excited to be there and wouldn’t dream of missing it,” she said.

“She’s a force of nature and no doubt she’ll steal the show like she did at the Rio Games and in Birmingham. She’ll be accompanied by my parents, a couple of uncles and cousins which just makes it all the more special.”

As well as juggling an elite sport, Coughlan studies at Victoria University.

She is undertaking Bachelor of Exercise Science (Clinical Practice) having completed a double-degree in Exercise Science (Human Movement)/Sport and Recreation Management

“Juggling elite sport, uni and work can be pretty difficult, it’s all about time management and prioritising the right things at the right time.

“I travel a lot for my sport and VUs block mode has made it easier for me to knock of units in the short periods of time that I’m home.

“VU has always been supportive of me as an elite athlete and it has made completing my degrees simultaneously to my sporting career possible.”