Friday, February 8, 2013

The Baptism of Fire

With my inaugural competition out of the way, i've had a bit of time to look back and reflect about it. The whole purpose of entering the English Wrestling Championships was to benchmark against the best and figure out where I was standing in the grand scheme of things. As it turned out things probably couldn't have been much better for bench marking but it was a long slog and a tough draw.

With a week to go I knew that I had to get myself mentally and physically prepared. I treated it as if it was an important rugby match, that's all I really know and although I was happy with the prep there are things I would like to change for next time. 

The week leading up to competition I had all my sessions as normal, I managed to get in the wrestling, flexibility and mobility sessions, KCR and and had a really good massage off Pav, my hamstrings and quads were loose and my calves weren't too bad the only issue I had was with the small of my back, it was a little tight but all in all in good shape even after a light Wrestling technique on Friday night

Love a steak 16oz
My flight to Bristol was Saturday morning 8:45am meaning I needed to get to the airport for 8:00am, no problem except that Cameron has been suffering all week from a viral infection called slap cheek and was up every half hour through the night, I think I got 2 hours total. Not great two nights before competition. Anyway I made the flight and spent the day with Simmo helping him wit some rugby stuff in Bath and Bristol. What facilities they have down there, there Bristol Sports Academy and University of Bath - phenomenal! We had a good feed for lunch, I managed to devour 16oz steak no problem and probably couldn't have eaten any more on the Saturday after my chicken loaded pasta that evening. 

Early to bed and up at 5:30am the next morning for the 2 hour journey up to Wolverhampton. I have to say at this point that Simmo did me a solid favour over the weekend. He drove me up to Wolverhampton he then had to get to Bath for Rugby before coming back to get me in Wolvemhapton and taking me home again. 400 Miles in total that's the equivalent of driving from Edinburgh to London. Thank you very much mate! 

Aldersley Sports Village, Wolvermhampton - just before weigh in
I arrived in Wolverhampton in good time for Weigh in and despite my protein and carb fest the day previous I only managed to weigh in at 115.2kg - standard weight for me at the moment. I watched as the place filled up scouting out the heavyweights. The current British Freestyle Champion Chinu Chinu rocked in, he is a big man. I've been trying to find a picture but none really do his size justice. There were a couple of others 9 in total fighting in my weight category. 

It was pretty busy must have been 400 - 500 people there in total including 220 competitors meaning a lot of matches. The bouts were released and I got a bye in the first round which was fine and I got drawn against Chinu in the second. That meant that I would be taking on the British Freestyle Champion in my first ever proper wrestling encounter. It was a long wait, Chinu came and found me because he was a little confused that after my name came ENG and he didn't know who I was. I explained that ENG wasn't England and was in fact [EN]GAGE Wrestling Club. The prep before you fight is odd (well to me anyway), there are two extremes, those who are sociable and talk to anybody and then there are those who chill out and keep themselves to themselves. I watched a lot of wrestling and did a fair bit of talking, I was just trying to get a feel for the place but next time I'd like to focus a bit more on my matches. That said, I did have to wait 3 hours until I was on.

I sat down with my coach on the day and asked for advice, we joked and agreed the best thing to do was "run!". Seriously though, the recommendations were to stay away, defend and try to last out the round. That plan would have been good if Chinu hadn't been as strong and powerful as he was. Stepping onto the mat to face him was fairly intimidating, he is a bit lad and the lats on him we more like wings. Let's not beat around the bush, he dominated me and smashed me and i'm happy to accept that. There was no way I could have beaten him with my knowledge or skill

Chinu Chinu in blue (photo copyright Nigel Farrow)
I wouldn't go as far to say I was a bunny in headlights but I wasn't expecting the power that came from his head snap. He managed to head snap me and try to move around the back. Once I knew he was on his way behind me I went to default par terre postion, on my front on the mat. A good idea in principle but he managed to turn me and I was in a pretty crap position that I shouldn't have let myself get into. All in about 20 seconds! I was on my back, bridging, moving my shoulders off the ground, I could feel him pushing me towards the edge of the mat and the umpire about to call us back up after about another 20 - 30 seconds. Normally you would get called up after 10 - 15 unless there is scope for a pin. For a second my back was flat on the floor and the umpire called the pin. A pretty easy second round fight for Chinu and a massive learning experience for me. 

Wrestling is a lot more technical than most people give it credit for and I can tell you that rolling around on the mat under the weight of the British Champion only for 30 seconds trying to avoid a pin is physically and mentally draining. His power was something else and something that I really need to work on, I wasn't expecting the aggression that he had and have decided that I'm far too nice on the mat and need to find a nasty streak to start winning matches.

So that was the end of that. Chinu had in all senses on the word smashed me on the mat, it was good to get that experience but I was in effect out of the competition unless Chinu made it through to the Gold medal match. Which, of course he did. That meant RepĂȘchage and another crack at the whip. I was only two bouts off a bronze medal but got drawn against the British Roman Grecco Champion who was trying his hand at Freestyle. He had done freestyle before and a bit of kick boxing so was expecting a quick exit. We got on the mat, had a scuffle and a bit of pushing, he tried the head snap, I defending this time and was doing ok but ended up getting gut wrenched stupidly 3 times in a row and that was the round! The second round went a lot better, I was getting pushed towards the edge and managed to get a throw in but was countered and lost that encouter. I did manage to get a single leg take down on the Grecco champ but didn't close it and hold him once it was complete so was a bit of wasted effort and got a pulled external oblique for my trouble. The round finished with another counter from him after I tried a throw and that showed that he was more experienced than me. I was a lot happier with that performance.

All in all a good day, the match against Chinu was a bit of a waste of time on the wrestling front but did give me a flavour of how powerful the best are and that's what this was about. I chilled out that evening with an uneventful night in Bristol, a couple of catch up pints with Simmo and the superbowl before passing out and heading home on Monday afternoon. Even got an easyjet upgrade (if there is such a thing) to better leg room seats, the flight attendant took pity on the two elderly ladies I was about to sit in between.

As Promised   singlet photo (ignore the socks)
So where does this leave me apart from in a bit of pain when I turn or rotate. Well, fighting the best was a privilege and showed me exactly how much I have to learn. I need to really hone down the fundamentals and develop the power. I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I may get the opportunity to compete in the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships in July, for me personally; as much as I would love to, I think this would be a step too far, I'm not ready for that and I wouldn't fare to well against the best in the commonwealth but that's for the coaches to decide. I've got a lot of training to do between now and then and the first qualification event in June. 

How are my Commonwealth Games 2014 qualification chances looking? I'm under no illusion that things are going to be tough, realistically if I'm going to qualify it will be at the British Closed Championships early next year. That would give me a year to buck up and learn the basics well. I'll still be entering the British and the other events but you have to be realistic about what you can achieve and luck can only take you so far! 

The next event for me is in April in Manchester at the British Novices! Looking forward to that one and starting training again. 

Thanks again for taking time out to read, and thanks especially to Simmo for his efforts last weekend #headofmoral 

For those of you who don't know the UK that well this is the journey that the big fella racked up this weekend. What a trooper! I did give him petrol money! not that tight!

Bristol - Wolverhampton - Bath - Wolverhampton - Bristol = Edinburgh - London



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