At 46kg, Merinda Bramley is not what you expect an international wrestler to look like.

But within her small frame beats a huge heart and competitive spirit, which, coupled with her superior technical skills, makes her quite a force on the mat.

The 16-year-old, a Papamoa College Year 12 student, first took up the sport aged 11. In August, she will represent New Zealand at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.

Wrestling may not be the preferred sporting choice for most teenage girls but it ticks all the boxes for Bramley.


"I think I like sports where not many females do it because I like being competitive with them," she said. "I started doing it and my coach said I should keep doing it, so I thought okay. I quite like it because it keeps me fit and healthy but I am always competitive. I like winning and being the best I can."

Bramley, who is a member of the Mount Maunganui Wrestling Club, qualified for the Youth Olympics with a gold medal winning performance in the 48kg division at the Oceania Wrestling Championships held in Pago Pago, America Samoa, in March

Earlier she impressed in winning bronze at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival held in January, which included 1700 athletes from 30 countries.

So performing on the big occasion does not bother her, although she is not quite sure how she will go in China.

"We will just have to see how I do but it is only my third international competition. I am a little nervous about it but what I learnt in Sydney was not to worry about who (opponents) are, or what country they are from. I held back a little bit so I will be just going there and doing what I do best."

Bramley is coached by Mount Maunganui-resident Mark Grayling, who is with the New Zealand team at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

"I learnt everything from Mark. He just keeps you going and is very supportive about everything."

Katikati wrestler Tyler Corbett will also compete at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing.