Commonwealth Games: Wrestling duo scoop bronze medals

By Nik Simon in Glasgow

Tayla Ford, in blue, battles against Carissa Holland. Photo / Greg Bowker
Tayla Ford, in blue, battles against Carissa Holland. Photo / Greg Bowker

New Zealand had waited almost 30 years for a wrestling medal but two arrived in 15 minutes on the mats in Glasgow as Tayla Ford and Sam Belkin won bronze.

The Kiwis duo are training partners at the Rangiora Club in Canterbury, where they practice in a disused stewards room at the local racecourse.

Ford, 21, was up first for the Kiwis at the Scottish Exhibition Centre, where she won by pinning English opponent Sarah Grundy to seal a 5-0 victory in the 58kg category.

"I'm ecstatic," said Ford. "It means a lot to have a medal. I don't think New Zealand's done this for a while, it's been about 28 years, let alone a female."

"I wanted gold or silver, but once that was out of the picture I put everything into going for bronze."

As a marginal sport in New Zealand, Ford's success has come off the back of limited funding and years of training alongside her brothers, who are also wrestlers.

But Ford, who has previously played rugby sevens to national level, now hopes to move overseas, with some renowned coaches based in Europe.

"I'm hoping to get some funding and hopefully go overseas and train," said Ford. "There's a guy named Murray Shore over in Sweden.

"He's a New Zealander and he trained with me for the past two and a half weeks. He's still training me over email and he's been watching my matches."

Meanwhile, Belkin beat Northern Ireland challenger Hugh McCloskey 4-0 in the bronze medal match of the 97kg category.

"It feels good," said Belkin. "It's been an intense build up for this. I started in South Africa, then Samoa and then America, so it will be nice to go home and get some rest.

"Tayla is such a good person to train with and she always brings a positive vibe to the club. We only have about five or six seniors, yet we came home with two medals. I'm stoked at the moment.

"I know I had the experience and the training background. Things didn't go my way at the beginning, but good on him because he never gave up and we had a great match the whole way through."

- NZ Herald

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