Something for the mantlepiece
PAT Versteegh had tried them all – football, basketball, boxing, body-building.
He enjoyed playing competitive sport but down the years had never, ever experienced the thrill of winning a sporting medal.
Not a best and fairest, best back, best forward, most improved, hardest trier or even a certificate for turning up each week.
The Versteegh mantelpiece was barer than Yul Brynner's noggin'.
But good things come to those who wait, and only a few months shy of his 49th birthday the Tugun father of seven finally cracked it for a coveted medal – the bronze variety – for finishing third in his submission wrestling division at last Saturday's Queensland Brazilian Jiu Jitsu League Championships at Nerang.
For the uninitiated, submission wrestling is, well, bluntly, cage fighting without the punches and gouging.
Pat was a member of the victorious five-man Potential Unlimited Mixed Martial Arts which represented the club at Nerang where they mined two gold, two silver and one bronze medals.
The other successful miners were Scott Bowden and Jeremy Alderson who won gold and silver medals, club coach Adrian McDonald and Shingu Shimokawa, who operates Sushi Train up at Coolangatta.
So what's a mild, middle-aged pest controller with a great sense of humour – he called his business Pestman Pat's Pest Control – doing competing in one of the most physical sports on the planet?
“I linked with the club about 12 months ago after researching them in the internet,” Pat explained.
“I was overweight, unfit and restricted in my mobility due to shoulder and back problems which I reckon resulted from many years training as an amateur bodybuilder.
“I was searching for something to help with my overall fitness and I liked what I read so I contacted Adrian (McDonald) at Tweed Heads and he invited me along to the club for a look.”
Pat liked what he saw and was soon “right into it”.
“The training has turned my life around.
“I've lost nearly 20kg, I've increased my core strength which has in turn helped me overcome the back and shoulder problems.
“But the sport to me is much more than physical.
“Mentally it has given me a real lift through the sense of achievement and the camaraderie of Adrian and my clubmates.”
Pat competed at the state titles in the heavyweight beginners class and says he ventured to Nerang hoping only to perform creditably and perhaps win an early bout “so I could have a photo taken with the referee holding my hand up”.
Something for the mantlepiece.
“To get into the semi-finals and win a bronze medal was beyond my wildest expectations.
“And I tell you what, I was only a few inches away from securing a hold in the last few seconds which would have given me the bout and a shot at silver or gold,” Pat said.
Coach McDonald was “over the moon” with his club's showing at the titles, but was particularly delighted by the performance of his most senior student.
“Pat's dedication and enthusiasm is an inspiration to all of us and for him to come away with a bronze medal was a just reward for everything he puts into the sport,” McDonald said.