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A stronger wrestling team from Paris experience

30 August 2017

WRESTLING: It may have been a steep learning curve but Australia’s United World Wrestling Championship wrestlers will be stronger athletes from the Paris experience.

Six wrestlers have recently returned home from France after they put in a mighty effort against more experienced and higher ranked athletes at the biggest event in the sport this year.

The team featured five athletes who will represent Australia at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Ashgabat next month, including three-time Australian Champion Connor Evans.

Evans was the highest placed Australian in Paris, finishing 18th after a tough draw saw him go down to the eventual silver medallist Russia’s Khetik Tsabolou in the opening round.

The two-time Senior Oceania Champion then faced Israeli wrestler Hanoc Rachanin in the repechage in what was an incredibly even match where Rachanin was fortunate to advance to the next round after landing a high point throw.

Evans said he was pleased with his performance and the opportunity to match it with the world’s best.

“Overall I'm pretty happy with the way I wrestled,” Evans said.

“I was very evenly matched against the Israeli wrestler in my repecharge bout and had chances to win but things just didn't go my way in the end.

“The quality of competition at the World Championships is so high, finishing in 18th place has given me a huge confidence boost knowing that I can hold my own against some of the best wrestlers in the world.”

CEO of Wrestling Australia, John Saul, said Evan’s World Championships result has made the other nations stand up and take notice of the 23-year-old.

“Connor tested Khetik [in the first round] with a number of shots and was close to scoring on several occasions and was able to keep the attacks at bay, but ultimately succumbed to the power of the Russian losing by points superiority,” Saul said.

“The repechage finished with equal points at 11-11; despite Connor making the most scoring moves the decision went against him due to a high point throw by the Israeli.

“Connor finished 18 overall but this could have been higher and is a great indicator that we will see better things from him in his next competition,” he said.

For Liam Neyland and Ariadne Burkhart, Paris was their senior international debuts, and both will benefit from the experience when they don the green and gold in Ashgabat next month.

“This was Liam's first World Champs at the senior level, having competed twice at juniors,” Saul said.

“Transition to seniors was not easy when he drew Ukraine in the first match. The Ukraine wrestler attacked strongly from the start and did not allow Liam to complete his attacks.

“Getting accustomed to the crowd and atmosphere was key for Ari in Paris,” he continued.

“Coming up against the Lithuanian wrestler in the 58kg category, Ari showed her great strength but the experience of the Lithuanian showed out with a victory by superiority points decision.

“As her first international experience this has shown there is enormous potential for Ari as she progresses to future competitions.”

2014 Commonwealth Games athlete and current national champion Rupinder Kaur went down the eventual silver medallist Emilia Alina from Romania in Kaur’s first international match since the birth of her daughter Saheb, to finish 27th overall.

Fellow Glasgow 2014 teammate Carissa-Jane Holland struggled to record points against Russia’s Mariia Gurova who dominated from the start and Holland took a pin fall.

The team will now turn their attention to the Ashgabat 2017 AIMAG, which will prove another tough challenge as they will come up against the wrestling powerhouse nations such as Japan, Korea, China and Iran.

“Knowing where I stand against the top wrestlers has given me a lot of confidence heading into my preparation for Ashgabat,” Evans said.

“I really feel that I can exceed a lot of expectations at the top international level and Ashgabat will be another chance to show what I'm capable of.”

Saul agrees with Evans that the Ashgabat Games will be a very challenging, but valuable experience.

“Big events such as World Championships and Games can be overpowering experiences simply by the atmosphere of the event in huge stadiums in front of loud and enthusiastic crowds,” Saul said.

“As martial arts and combat sports are an extremely popular part of the Turkmenistan culture we are assured of a huge competition in front of a crowd that will be super enthusiastic,” he continued.

“Our wrestlers have a most valuable opportunity to learn and grow from their experience at this event.”

Australia’s Ashgabat 2017 AIMAG WrestlingTeam:

Ariadne Burkhart F58kg
Connor Evans M74kg
Carissa-Jane Holland F53kg
Rupinder Kaur F48kg
Liam Neyland M65kg
Petrus Palm M57kg

Georgia Thompson
olympics.com.au

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