Oceania's this year was in lovely land of Tahiti. Oh la la!
Crystal blue water. A very hot, sticky climate. A room with no air-conditioning. A cold hose for a shower. A 5kg weight cut and 5 years since I last competed at a Oceania Championships in Wrestling.
This year was different. Was I prepared? Physically--yes (well kind-of), mentally--definitely not. You'd think because of my preparation leading up into Oceania's and being granted with the opportunity to go to Finland to train, I was ready. But, I did just come back from taking a year off to focus on myself, focus on my work and try to build a life for myself outside wrestling. So it could do me a world of good, or work against me. And as they say "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't - You're right!".
I had a few wrestles that day but it was my finals match I was worried about. I versed Aquino from Guam. Watching her sister from the side lines as she competed against another opponent, I tried to scoop out some techniques or similarities in their styles. In my head I repeated "Outside single. Snap to outside single". This was a common trait I found in her technique. But nothing compares until you hop inside that circle.
It was my turn.
I started to warm-up. Doing everything I used to do to pump myself up: Jumping on the spot, chucking in some tuck jumps to elevate my heart-rate, and tapping my feet side-to-side to keep myself warm. I remember looking across to MAT A, and the other Aussie who competed on that mat had just been defeated. But I couldn't focus on that, I had to focus back on myself. They called my name. I took my jacket off, I walked to my corner then to the centre of the mat. It was the last match before lunch so everyone was watching. We shook hands, and the whistle blew. It was go time!
"Stay low, and watch the outside single"
I kept my stance low, watching for any set-up attacks she may do. But she was a diver- She loved her low outside/sweep singles. She knew she was good at getting them too but it was all in good time. First 2 mins, she was able to get one outside single that gave her 2 points. But I knew that there was still time. In my head I kept repeating the words above. As she shot, I sprawled and defended as best as I could. I went for the front headlock and worked on control. I tried to attack from that position, but before I knew it, she was out. It was back to square one. Last minute of the match - passivity call - against me. I now had 30 seconds to attack. I got one push out and got a point. Usually, I tend to be a little bit more defensive on passivity calls as sometimes being forced to attack can work against you, but this time I was behind and needed points. Whistle blew. Round one was over.
The heat and humidity started to kick in. Breathing got heavy. I knew she would be coming in with her outside singles so I tried to stay low. As the round went on, the harder it got and the more my technique started to suffer. I remember getting pushed out of bounds, and at the time, I went for a throw. It was successful. We stood back up, walked back to the centre and someone threw the towel in. Now in Wrestling, a "throwing the towel in" means to challenge a point. I honestly had no idea who threw it in. I was dizzy and focused on getting my breath back. But when the referee looked at me for my approval for the challenge, I looked back at my coaches, I trusted their opinion so I looked back at the referee and said "OK". During this time, my teammates told me why they challenged the point. I'm glad they were so attentive! I definitely wasn't. But unfortunately, the challenge was denied. She got one point for it. As the time went on, I became desperate and started taking very lazy shots. Her points kept climbing. Last 10 seconds, I was breathing heavy, desperate for any point I could get, I went for the outside single myself and got it. But it was too late. The whistle had blown. I had lost the match. I remember my disappointment. I found it hard to pick myself up off the floor. The expectations for me to win were high. But I lost and sometimes that hurts more than anything. But once I calmed down, I was ok.
You never "lose" when you are an athlete. The best athletes know that you either win or you learn. That's just the way it goes. For me, it gave me fire. It gave me something to work on. But more importantly, it was the slap on the back I needed to start taking my wrestling seriously again. Wrestling you can't do "part-time". If you are a serious athlete, it requires 100 percent of your dedication and commitment. But I know I haven't given it the time it needs, and now I know I should. My fire was back! I just couldn't wait to go home and start to get to work!
But there was one more event the next day - Beach Wrestling. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of beach wrestling at all. I dressed up in a dressy top and denim shorts, expecting not to do it. Honestly, I was dressed to go Island Hopping on Moorea Island in Tahiti. But since that venture failed, I returned back to the venue and a few friends convinced me to do it. Let's just say, it didn't take much convincing. It's all about having fun, right? I didn't do too badly, either! Two exhibition matches and two wins! Even against some tough opponents. I was happy with that.
But it made me think. What made that any different then my match the day before? Was it because there was no pressure? Was it because it didn't mean anything? Was it who I was versing? All in all, I think it was a mixture of all three. Because there was no pressure, and because its a different game, I guess the thought process is very different.
I am interested to see how I go in the next few months. I now have a lot of things to work on. I also have some big competitions coming up in the next few months, and a big opportunity too! All I can say is, watch this space!