Fe­male wrestlers on the rise

Northern Outlook - - SPORT - JONATHAN LEASK

‘‘The thing that strikes me is that girls do judo, karate, rugby and other things but there has al­ways been a stigma about girls wrestling. It is no dif­fer­ent to the others.’’

Women in wrestling is on the rise at the Ran­giora Ama­teur Wrestling Club.

The club has a grow­ing num­ber of young girls tak­ing up the sport.

‘‘This week we had 40 kids along and about a quar­ter of them were girls,’’ club spokesman Ke­van McLaugh­lan said.

‘‘We have been steadily grow­ing the num­bers but it is only now that we have a group within the same age range that can train well to­gether.’’

The club is en­joy­ing a pe­riod of growth across the board but the num­ber of ju­nior girls has dou­bled in the last year.

‘‘We’ve al­ways had fairly good num­bers but male dom­i­nated so it is great to see a grow­ing num­ber of girls.’’

‘‘The thing that strikes me is that girls do judo, karate, rugby and other things but there has al­ways been a stigma about girls wrestling. It is no dif­fer­ent to the others.’’

It teaches dis­ci­pline, pro­vides strength and fit­ness but also self­de­fense, McLaugh­lan said.

The club was home to New Zealand rep­re­sen­ta­tive Tay­lor Ford, who won a bronze medal at the Glas­gow Com­mon­wealth Games, be­fore she moved to the North Is­land, and the hope is that some of the cur­rent ju­nior crop stick at it and fol­low in her foot­steps.

When they com­pete, the U10 and U13 grades are mixed in with the boys but the Ran­giora Rat­tlers have had some solid re­sults.

At the re­cent South Is­land Cham­pi­onships, where some of the squad made their way south through the ris­ing flood­wa­ters to Mos­giel, Char­lotte Shel­ley was sec­ond in the U10 36kg.

McLaugh­lan said they were fi­nal­is­ing which wrestlers from the club were at­tend­ing the New Zealand Nationals at Te Awa­mutu on Septem­ber 7-8.

Mean­while, two se­nior male mem­bers of the club, Stephen Hill and Sam Belkin, are look­ing at plans to make the team for the 2018 Com­mon­wealth Games on the Gold Coast, Aus­tralia.

They both com­peted at the last Com­mon­wealth Games in Glas­gow in 2014, where Belkin won a bronze medal.

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