David Wilkinson first walked into a PCYC Queensland club at the age of seven. Eleven years later, he became a serving officer in the Queensland Police Service and so began his journey to the Olympics. Thirty-two years after first walking into a PCYC club and with the title of Olympian now under his belt, David became the Youth Club Manager of PCYC Inala and embarked on his journey to empower the young people in his local community.
“I’ve been involved with PCYC Queensland since I was seven years old, starting at PCYC Ipswich with my four brothers where I took up Judo classes. We grew up in housing commissions in Ipswich and doing Judo at PCYC gave us direction, positive role models and a really powerful connection with the coaches and Police Officers in charge who became our mentors.
As I progressed through Judo, I moved to PCYC Lang Park for my coaching where I was able to participate as a member of one of the largest and strongest Judo clubs in Queensland.
PCYC supported me to compete at a state and national level where my brother Mark and I earned numerous titles. It was here that my determination to succeed in the sport really took hold, as I worked to make my family and coaches proud.
At 17 years of age, I realised the power QPS Officers had to effect change and left high school to join the Queensland Police Academy, where I hoped to hone a new set of skills outside of Judo to support my community. I completed a year of training before being sworn in as a serving officer and starting my policing career in Ipswich.
In the year that followed, I returned to my home-ground of PCYC Ipswich to continue my Judo training and expanded my competitive endeavours to competing in the Europe, British and Dutch championships as a member of the Australian Judo team. We travelled to South Korea and trained with Japanese teams to continue to hone our skills.
In 1995 I was selected for the Australian Olympic Judo team where I would face one of the toughest challenges in my Judo career. At a training camp in Canberra, I injured my knee rupturing my ACL. The fortitude, commitment and resilience I had learnt as a young athlete at PCYC powered me through the impossible decision to opt to compete with the injury, rather than have a knee reconstruction which would rule me out of Olympic selections.
Calling on the years of training I had received at PCYC, I adapted my style to take advantage of my uninjured knee and changed my tactics and approach to Judo completely just weeks out from the Oceania Titles where my road to Olympic qualification would begin. Going on to place well in the Pan Pacific Championships and then the World Championships in 1995, I earned selection for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the dream of that 7 year old boy in his first Judo class at PCYC Ipswich came true.
As unseeded Judo player, my first fight was against the European champion. I won this fight with what is known as an “Ippon”, the highest score a fighter can achieve in a Japanese martial art, which was great achievement. My second fight was against a French competitor to whom I lost, but had a great fight. I was the only male Judo competitor to win a fight at the Atlanta Olympics where I finished 13th place.
Returning from the Olympics to my role as a QPS officer, I remained close to the work PCYC Queensland was doing in my local community. I could see the power of the programs and support PCYC delivered to at-risk and disengaged young people and decided I wanted to play a bigger part in helping them to change their stories.
In 2010, I commenced as Second Officer at PCYC Inala and later became the Youth Club Manager in 2012. Since then, I have provided relieving support at over 20 PCYC Club across the state. Walking into the clubs I used to train at as a young boy, now as a Police Officer working to engage young people in those communities to raise their gaze and consider what other options are out there for them, is a surreal experience.
Every day I see the potential in the young people we support and take great pride in the work I do, along with the broader PCYC Queensland team, to take that potential and turn it into real, positive outcomes for them and their communities.”
Sergeant David Wilkinson
PCYC Inala Youth Club Manager & Olympian