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Thomas Barns - Wrestling through injury for a spot at YOG

8 August 2018

BUENOS AIRES: Freestyle wrestling may be considered a left-of-field sporting choice for most teenagers. Thomas Barns tried several different sports before he gave wrestling a go, but now, he is on his way to Argentina, representing his country and his sport at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG).

“I’ve loved sport all my life. As a kid growing up I played Australian Rules football, rugby union and also did a bit of rowing, but as soon as I had my first session of wrestling, I knew it was the sport for me,” Barns said.

The 17-year-old described wrestling as a sport that requires determination, skill, technique and one that will challenge and push you to your limits.

“The fact that wrestling is often considered the toughest sport in the world, means being able to excel at it is such an honour.”

And excel Barns has, with a painful injury, no less.

For the Perth native to secure a place at Buenos Aires, he needed to qualify through the 2018 Oceania Games and then be nominated by Wrestling Australia’s high-performance board.

Not long before winning the Oceania Games, Barns had to battle through a painful but common combat sports injury.

Tom Barns with Coach

“The toughest part of winning my spot at YOG was that I had to compete in the gold medal match with a fresh cauliflower ear, so that could have put me off my game,” he said.

Cauliflower ear is described as ‘an acquired swollen deformity of the outer ear, usually due to blunt trauma or repeated hits to the ear that result in hematomas or blood clots. It is an irreversible condition that separates the cartilage from the ear causing it to die and form fibrous tissue in the overlying skin.’

But the 17-year-old pushed through, won the gold and earned his ticket to Buenos Aires.

Barns said he was thrilled with his selection, although there was no time to rest for this committed teenager, who currently trains every day.

“Finding out I had been selected for YOG gave me such a terrific feeling. I heard the news when I got home from training, but there wasn’t much time to celebrate as I was back to training early the next morning, with extra motivation!

“I am currently trying to put on some weight to reach my weight category which is 110 kg. My training involves seven days a week of weight training, cardio, fitness training, live wrestling and technical sessions,” he said.

The sole YOG wrestling representative for the Oceania region said that although in Australia, wrestling isn’t as well-known as it is in other countries, he has had no shortage of role models and he thinks this could be one of his strengths at YOG.

“I like the fact that I will be able to come in as an underdog, as Australia is a country that isn’t well known for its wrestling.

“I’m also lucky to have been influenced by hard working, committed parents, coaches and fellow wrestlers who are great teachers and mentors.”

You can learn more about Thomas and the rest of the YOG squad HERE

Liana Buratti

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