Evans' long road to wrestling at Rio

Published 28 January 2016 (AEDT)

WRESTLING: Connor Evans’ dreams of competing at the Olympic Games started at age seven in Scotland watching professional wrestling on TV.

From that early moment he knew that wrestling was the sport for him.

“My mum saw an ad for the local club in the paper and my dad was friends with the coach, so they took me to training and I immediately loved it.”

Fast forward 15 years and Evans has represented Scotland, Britain and Australia at countless international wrestling competitions

In 2008, Evans was selected as a member of the Scottish team for the Commonwealth Youth Games in India, which he said was one of his career highlights.

“I remember walking out on the athletics track at the front of the team and as we walked past a big group of Scottish supporters I could see and hear my mum and dad in the middle of it cheering for us.”

After living in Scotland until the age of 16, Evans’ parents decided to move to Australia when he decided to take a break from the sport, but it wasn’t long before he was inspired in his new hometown.

 “In 2011 the Commonwealth Championships were held in Melbourne so I went to watch and that made me want to get involved again.”

The 22-year-old has refocused his sporting goals and hopes to represent Australia at the Olympics in the freestyle 86kg event.

Since becoming an Australian citizen, Evans has donned the green and gold five times including at the World Championships in Las Vegas, USA last year.

It was at the 2015 Australian Championships in Canberra that Evans proved he was a strong contender on the mat as he took out the gold in the men’s 86kg division.

“Winning gold was a huge achievement for me because the previous few years I feel like I didn't show what I was capable of and it was the first senior national title I've won,” Evans said.

Evans says that competing at the Rio 2016 Games would certainly be a dream come true.

“It is the pinnacle of the sport so to say that you really have competed at that level would be an amazing feeling.

“I've spent close to 15 years preparing for it,” Evans said.

The Melburnian manages to fit in one or two training sessions a day on top of a full time work schedule.

“In the lead up to Rio I will be looking to take time off work to increase my training load.

In order to fulfil his lifelong dream of competing at the Games, Evans will first have to win his division in February at Nationals in Melbourne.

The National Champions will then be sent to the Africa/Oceania continental qualifier in Algiers, Algeria in April, with only the top 2 wrestlers in each division qualify for the spot.

The final chance will come at one of two “Last-Chance” Qualification Tournament, where provided that Australia has not already qualified for a spot in the division, the top two athletes in each divisions will be selected.

Australia is expected to qualify two wrestlers for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Ashleigh Knight

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