A team of four talented wrestlers has been named for the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
The selected athletes are Westerly Ainsley (Te Wharekura o Mauao), Arapo Kellner (Kaitaia College), Ryan Marshall (Hamilton Boys High School) and Ella Derry (Tauranga Girls College).
The athletes were selected after winning their respective divisions at the Oceania Wrestling Championships, which doubled as the Youth Olympic Games qualifying tournament, in Guam in May.
Above: Ryan Marshall in action
Arapo Kellner says he’s looking forward to facing a range of international competitors at the Youth Olympic Games.
The 16 year old began wrestling when he lived in Wyoming in the United States, where the sport is extremely popular.
“I started wrestling when I was four years old, growing up in the US my older brother and all my friends were all wrestlers so that’s how I got into it.
“I love the physicality and intensity that comes with the sport, it’s the ultimate challenge.”
15 year old Ella Derry also got into the sport through her brother. She enjoys the tactics involved and the fact that wrestling keeps her fit, strong and healthy.
“What I love about the sport is how much it makes you think and how different it is to the basic school sports that are offered, it really tests your mental strength.”
Above: Ella Derry competing
New Zealand Olympic Wrestling Union Technical Director Iain Adamson believes the Youth Olympic Games will contribute significantly to the development of the athletes.
“This is a great bunch of young athletes and this will be a fantastic opportunity for them to learn new skills while taking on some of the best wrestlers in the world”, said Adamson.
“Congratulations to them all on their selection and we wish them all the best for Buenos Aires 2018.”
Several wrestlers who’ve represented NZ at Youth Olympic Games have gone on to wrestle at Commonwealth Games, including Tayla Ford (bronze, Glasgow 2014) and Brahm Richards.
Westerly Ainsley will contest the 65kg Freestyle category.
Arapo Kellner will contest the 60kg Greco Roman category.
Ryan Marshall will contest the 80kg Freestyle category.
Ella Derry will contest the 43kg Freestyle category.