Physical activity and sports studies (PASS) students at Yass High School had a unique opportunity on November 12, when they were visited by Australian Olympic representative, Nathan Katz.
Katz, who has competed in judo at the 2016 Olympics, and came to YHS as part of the Australian Olympic Committee's "Olympics Unleashed" initiative.
According to the AOC website, the program gives schools the opportunity to host athletes aiming for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, where they will share "lessons from their Olympic journey that every student can learn from."
The presentation from Katz, said YHS PE teacher James Harding, was "really well received" by the students in attendance.
"Judo's not a particularly common sport, so the kids didn't really have an idea of what was involved in it," he said.
"That was really good for them to find out what's involved in the sport."
A three-time judo junior national champion between 2012 and 2014, Katz went on to win the junior Oceania Championship in 2014 and finished ninth in the junior World Championships the next year.
In 2015 and 2016, he won the -66kg Oceania Championships to secure an Olympic berth.
And yet, despite all he has achieved, Harding said he found the athletes' work ethic in their day-to-day lives the most extraordinary aspect.
"The thing that always gets me is their training regime and how regimented it is and how intensive it is," he said.
"They get up at 4.30am and train and then go to work like a normal person."
Katz's visit was deeply appreciated by the YHS students, who understood that the athletes' training regimes and personal lives makes traveling to rural areas exceptionally difficult and time-consuming.
"It's not particularly common that we get athletes like that to come out to rural areas," Harding said.
"I think that's the thing that students really appreciate, that it's hard for them to get to our venue to do their presentations, so they really take it on board."
The opportunity to listen to an Olympic athlete and pick his brain was not lost on the students, Harding said. He hoped they would come away from Katz's presentation both inspired and with the ability to formulate a plan for their future, wherever it may lie.
"[I] hope that the kids in the room start setting goals for themselves and what they might be able to achieve and what they have to do to achieve that," he said.
Harding was pleasantly surprised by Katz's openness and generosity with his time.
"He was really open about his story and the trials and tribulations that he's gone through to get where he was," Harding said.
"Post presentation, he stayed around and took some unscheduled questions and answers and took some photos with the students.
"It was a nice personal experience for them."