Wollongong judoka Mick Cutajar overcame a limited preparation and the weight of history in winning bronze at the Asian Judo Championships in Japan.
Winning medals in Japan - even for a veteran of 17 trips - is considered near impossible for non-Japanese judokas particularly at the home of the discipline Kodokan but Cutajar came within a judges decision of making the gold-medal match.
"It's where it started, it's where a lot of people want to go [but] they're afraid of losing," Cutajar said.
"It's [judo] like rugby league here. It's in their primary and secondary schools so it's pretty compulsory."
Cutajar competed in the 40s age division which is stacked with former world championship winners.
Cutajar was blessed with a bye in the first round before winning his round-two match with just seconds remaining of the bout.
"I won the second in the last few seconds with a counter throw," he said.
"It got me a 10-pointer that got me in the lead."
Five minutes was not enough to decide his semi-final bout with neither he nor his Japanese opponent able to score decisively.
When a second five-minute 'golden score' round failed to decide the bout it was left in the judges' hands.
"When the second five didn't get a result it's left to the judges and basically if you're fighting a Japanese player on their home turf you're not going to get it [decision]," Cutajar said.
The performance came on just four weeks preparation following ankle surgery in March.
"I only expected to finish in the top 10," he said.
"I broke my ankle back in March so I'm coming off a full ankle reconstruction. I only had four weeks to prepare. Before that all I could do was cardio and groundwork, throwing was out of the equation."
Cutajar won gold at last year's Osaka International and is the reigning Commonwealth champion, meaning he'll be right in the hunt for medals at IJF Veterans World Judo Championships in Dubai in seven weeks' time.
"My international record is pretty good. Last year I got a gold in the Commonwealth then I got the Osaka gold and now this one, so hopefully I'm in the frame for medals," he said.