No regrets for Phipps after Games defeat


Wayne Phipps' Paralympic debut lasted just one minute and 48 seconds.

But after what he went through to qualify for Tokyo, he has no regrets.

The 48-year-old from Perth, who is vision impaired, is only the third Australian to compete in judo at the Paralympics and the first since 2008.

COVID-19 certainly made him earn it.

To earn a Games berth, Phipps had to gain qualifying points at mid-year tournaments in Azerbaijan and the United Kingdom, three weeks apart.

First, the Azerbaijan tournament was switched to Turkey because of rising COVID numbers.

Then it was switched back to Azerbaijan.

Four days before the tournament, Turkey was declared off-limits to the United Kingdom because of COVID and Phipps' flights were transferring there.

So Phipps decided to take his chances at the UK tournament.

"I just felt a lot easier in myself, that is was one trip to the UK," he said.

"I'd been away for so long and COVID was changing on a daily basis and it was working on my mind."

He finished fifth, which put him into the world top 20 and was enough to earn an invitation to compete at the Games.

"Man, it's unbelievable, just getting here," he said.

"Going through the last three or four years of competing and trying to gain those points and eventually crack the top 20, for me, was a dream come true."

But on Friday, his campaign hit a brick wall in the form of Mongolia's Munkhbat Aajim, who took less than two minutes to beat him in their B3 -66kg opening-round bout.

"He was a really strong fighter ... I gave it my best," Phipps said.

"I have literally no regrets (about) the lead-up, the journey and what I've experienced here today.

"Obviously things play back in your mind - I possibly could have, should have, done this. I should have tried that in the fight.

"But that happens and I'm not doing to dwell on it too much."

Phipps will have another six days in Tokyo supporting his Australian teammates, and long-term he hopes to build the sport's profile ahead of the 2032 Brisbane Games.

Australian Associated Press