A team of six athletes has been named to represent New Zealand in wrestling at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Christchurch all-rounder Tayla Ford leads the team, going into the games a Commonwealth Championship bronze medallist and current Oceania champion. The only female in the team, Ford will contest the 58kg class and look to secure a medal in the freestyle discipline.
97kg competitor Sam Belkin and heavyweight Marcus Carney are also heading to Glasgow 2014 aiming to improve on strong 4th and 5th Commonwealth Championship placings. Carney narrowly missed selection for the London 2012 Olympic Team.
Ford,Belkin and Carney will be joined by Oceania Championship gold medallists Soukananh Thongsingh (61kg) and Stephen Hill (86kg) as well as Canada-based Craig Miller who will compete in the 65kg class.
Ford, who represented New Zealand in Judo and played for Canterbury in womens Rugby Sevens, says that she is excited to be heading to the Commonwealth Games and with still 60 days to go will make the most the time remaining. I came away with bronze in South Africa but I know I can up my game," she said on her selection today. "I have increased the number of wrestling trainings I do and Ive started weightlifting. I feel good and Im focused on coming home with a medal from Glasgow. It's exciting.
Ford, like all the wrestlers named to the team today, juggles training around full or part-time work.
Belkin, who trains in Rangiora alongside Ford, finished fourth at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games in Greco-Roman wrestling which does not feature at this year's games. He has made a successful transition to the free-style discipline for Glasgow 2014.
New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO welcomed the athletes to the Commonwealth Games Team and said they would make New Zealand proud.
The Commonwealth Games are a pinnacle event for New Zealand wrestling and each of the athletes named today have the ability to finish in the top six in the Commonwealth.
Wrestlers require all-round strength, fitness, speed and flexibility and we are looking forward to following the progress of the New Zealand athletes in Glasgow.
Technical Director for New Zealand Wrestling Iain Adamson said the team was focused on producing strong results in Glasgow.
Weve got some very competitive athletes who have shown they are capable of competing at the top of the Commonwealth, he said.
Competition wont be easy with very strong Canadian, Indian and Nigerian athletes competing against us and the lack of ceding in wrestling can also throw up challenges when the draw is made.
Our athletes are determined and are making the sacrifices required to achieve.
The athletes now depart for Europe and North America to ensure they find the intensity of training required in the build-up.
New Zealand has won 27 Commonwealth Games medals since the first in 1938 (Sydney). The last medals won by New Zealand wrestlers were two silvers and a bronze in 1986 in Edinburgh.
Six athletes competed in wrestling at the Delhi Commonwealth Games across both freestyle and Greco-Roman disciplines.
The athletes named today are:
Tayla Ford Womens 58kg, Christchurch. Age, 21 Sam Belkin Mens 97kg, Christchurch. Age, 26 Marcus Carney Mens 125kg, Auckland. Age, 26 Craig Miller Mens 65kg, Auckland. Age, 29 (currently based Canda) Soukananh Thongsinh Mens Freestyle 61kg, Auckland. Age, 26 Stephen Hill- Mens Freestyle 86kg, Christchurch. Age, 32