Ready to WRES­TLE for NZ

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - REXINE HAWES

How much can you tell about a per­son by just meet­ing them? Most peo­ple who meet Michelle Mon­tague for the first time would have no idea her ultimate goal is to be­come a pro­fes­sional Mixed Mar­tial Arts (MMA) fighter. That’s the 23-yearold Hamil­ton Hawks Wrestling team mem­ber’s long-term goal. But for now she is fo­cus­ing on wrestling, just one as­pect of Mixed Mar­tial Arts. Re­cently she was named in the New Zealand wrestling team to com­pete in the Ocea­nia Champs, Tahiti in March. Mon­tague’s in­tro­duc­tion to wrestling came at Core MMAGymin Hamil­ton a few years ago. ‘‘I did ev­ery sin­gle class, one was a wrestling class, I didn’t know what it was like as a sport on its own, but I liked it. For me it was a smaller ver­sion of rugby, which I was play­ing at the time.’’ Awrestling coach in­vited her to a train­ing camp, which in­cluded peo­ple in­volved with MMA, judo and jiu-jitsu and plenty of wrestlers. She quickly re­alised what to ex­pect from the sport.

‘‘They saw this girl who was big­ger than the rest, so they put me with these boys and I got smashed.

‘‘And all I was try­ing to do was de­fend the whole time. You can be as ath­letic as you like but if you don’t know how to wres­tle, they can use it against you. It was re­ally a way to see the level the oth­ers are at and the high per­for­mance side of the sport.’’

Mon­tague has fo­cused on wrestling train­ing, par­tic­i­pat­ing in tour­na­ments.

Her her short-term goal was to qual­ify for the na­tion­als, which would al­low her to com­pete at the Ocea­nia Champs.

How­ever, she faced a set­back in Septem­ber when she broke her leg. She missed the na­tion­als but be­cause of her stand­ings on pre­vi­ous tour­na­ments, she was el­i­gi­ble to qual­ify for the Ocea­nia Champs.

Com­peti­tors who make the top two in the Ocea­nia fi­nals qual­ify for the Com­mon­wealth Champs, from which the top six will go to the Com­mon­wealth Games. She is one of 30 rep­re­sent­ing New Zealand in Tahiti.

‘‘I am­look­ing for­ward to get­ting my­jer­sey with the

Michelle Mon­tague will com­pete for the New Zealand wrestling team at the Ocea­nia Champs in Tahiti.

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