Seven wrestlers will represent New Zealand at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in April.

That is two more than the Glasgow Games in 2014 where Tauranga's Tayla Ford (women's 62kgs) and Sam Belkin (men's 97kg) won bronze medals.

Those two are joined in the team named todayby debutants Toby Fitzpatrick (men's 86kg), Ana Moceyawa (women's 57kgs), Michelle Montague (Women's 68kg), Akash Khullar (men's 74kg) and Brahm Richards (men's 65kgs).

For Tauranga-based Moceyawa, 28, selection is the reward for her decision to move north from her home in Christchurch and focus on wrestling.


The black belt is a renowned performer on the national and international judo stage, but that sport is not on the roster for Commonwealth Games.

So she switched her focus to wrestling with making the Games her major goal.

"I've been focusing on this since 2015, so I feel like all the hard work has paid off. I have always wanted to be a high-level athlete, and obviously, the Olympics is the dream.
Commonwealth Games is the level right now for me, and I am looking to do really well there," she said.

"I'm feeling really positive about the Games. My goal is to make the final. I've put all the right processes in place to get to the final, and now I just have to trust in my training and do my thing."

Moceyawa believes her judo background makes her a far more difficult opponent to handle on the mat.

"I didn't start wrestling when I was six years old, so I am going to use the judo background as my strong point, with the throws and the transitioning into ground, so I am definitely confident in that."

New Zealand's assistant coach Ross Tanner is based in Katikati where the small population produces more than its share of national medal winners.

"We are very happy with the team we are taking away this year. The process started in March last year. We took them to Tahiti for the Oceania champs and they all wrestled well there and we won some gold medals," Tanner said.


"In December we took them to (Commonwealth champs) in Johannesburg. Tayla (Ford) got second and Ana (Moceyawa) won a bronze medal which was really exciting for us and the boys got around fourth and fifth."

Tanner is confident there will be New Zealand wrestlers on the podium in April.

"We are really excited about the Games coming forward. We think we have two or three really good prospects for medals, so we are very happy. We have to be realistic about our chances but if we can come away with two medals then that is great and if we win more we will be very excited."

Lesser known sports like wrestling rely heavily on the media coverage generated at Commonwealth Games, Tanner said.

"It is a small sport in New Zealand, so we are always looking for new people to take up the sport. After the last Commonwealth Games, the talk around wrestling was huge. We took some of our athletes around the schools and showed them the medals.

"To get more kids into wrestling since then has been huge and if we can build on that, it is great for the sport."