Wrestler makes Commonwealth Games history

SETTING HER SIGHTS: Sian Law has won many wrestling accolades, but says that competing at the Commonwealth Games will be the ultimate test of her abilities.
SETTING HER SIGHTS: Sian Law has won many wrestling accolades, but says that competing at the Commonwealth Games will be the ultimate test of her abilities.

Sian Law has become New Zealand's first female wrestler to be selected for a Commonwealth Games.

The 29-year-old Tawa athlete has been the No 1 female wrestler in New Zealand for several years but has never had competition outside Oceania before. She is part of a six-strong wrestling squad named for the Delhi, India Commonwealth Games, running from October 3 to 14.

It is the first time a women's freestyle division has been included. Law says "times are changing" and she is pleased that wrestling's popularity amongst women overseas will be reflected at the games.

The sport is particularly strong in the United States, Canada and India, and Law expects strong competition at the Commonwealth Games to come from the latter two.

She might be stronger and fitter than some of her rivals, but concedes they will have the experience of regular tournaments under their belts.

"In Canada they have such a strong structure and wrestling, for women, is huge in India. There are such big incentives to win titles and medals.

"I don't think we're far off the mark in New Zealand but we don't have that regular competition."

Finding out she would be included in the team for Delhi was a "huge relief" and the realisation of a dream.

"Going to the Commonwealth Games has been a goal of mine since I started wrestling.

"I'm a creature of habit so I like to know dates and goals, and to have a specific programme in place. I'm more settled now everything's all laid out."

Alongside her teammates, Law heads offshore this week for meets in Spain and Britain, before the world championships in Russia.

She says there is great camaraderie in the team, due to their numbers, and she will have coach Graeme Hawkins along for the ride, all the way through to the Commonwealth Games.

"I've known Graeme since I was a kid and it's going to be great to have him with me, he's represented New Zealand and has so much experience."

Her work - in IT for the police - will have to take a back seat but Law is glowing when speaking of her employers and the amount of time she has had off over the years.

A chance like this does not come around often and they fully support her.

Wrestling occupies the first week at the games, meaning Law will have a chance to "eat again" - she has to lose about five kilograms between now and October to stay under 51kg - and watch other Kiwi competitors in action across Delhi.

Events like the rugby sevens and rowing are high on her list.

She doubts this will be her last big shot, either, with sights still set on the Olympic Games in London in 2012.

"It is getting harder to do this. I've been the same weight since I was 16 and I'm sore all the time. But I'm still going strong and the Olympics is a possibility for me. I'm 29 and I've been lucky not having any major injuries."

Law hopes having a Kiwi wrestling team in Delhi will be a shot in the arm for the sport.

"From my perspective, wrestling has been good to me because I've travelled the world.

I've been to Guam and Borneo - places I would never had the chance to if not for wrestling."

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