Cutajar misses Games team

Cutajar misses Games team, by Chris Roots - 27th March 2008
(Credit: Illawarra Mercury)

Wollongong's Mick Cutajar came within one fight of making the Australian Olympic judo team at the Oceania Championship in Christchurch last weekend.

The 39-year-old went down in the 100kg final to Victorian Matt Celotti, losing the opportunity to be one of the biggest stories at the Beijing Games.

Cutajar has turned his life around since being the cell mate of serial killer Ivan Milat in Long Bay Jail, where he spent three years as "a young bloke" on an armed robbery charge.

He has since become a family man and completed a degree at Wollongong University and is already targeting the 2012 London Olympics.

"I had five hours between the rounds and the final to think about things - all the things I have done and how hard I had worked to get to where I was," Cutajar said.

"It's not the end for me because a lot of people get this close and then go on to represent at the next Olympics"

Cutajar had beaten New Zealand's World Cup champion Andrew Pragnell during the rounds in a major upset and took an early lead in the final.

But Celotti forced a penalty on Cutajar then scored an eight-point throw to take a lead the Wollongong warrior could not peg back.

"Matt is a great young player and he forced me to concede a penalty," Cutajar said. "I did my best against the best that were in the running for the Olympic team, but the better man won on the day.

"I have sealed a reserve position and if anything happens to Matt I will be included in the Olympic team.

"I'm not going to retire because I have proven myself against the best now and I feel like I'm still improving."


Mick Cutajar