Watch out for our wrestlers - they're ready

Published 15 August 2016 (AEDT)

WRESTLING: While thousands of athletes have already wrapped up their competitions, spare a thought for those patiently waiting to get their Rio 2016 campaigns underway.

Three of those competitors are Australia’s trio of wrestlers in Rio.

Greco-Roman heavyweight Ivan Popov and freestyle athletes Sahit Prizreni and Talgat Ilyasov will compete across the next few days as the wrestling competition kicks off at Carioca Arena 2.

The three Aussies have been training hard since arriving in Rio and are pumped to hit the competition mat.

“Training was perfect, I am feeling healthy and strong and I am ready to roll,” said Popov who will compete in the 130kg Greco-Roman event on Monday 15 August.

“I’m so excited as it’s all new for me as it’s my first Olympics.”

Teammate Ilyasov will then finally get to make his Olympic debut in the 74kg freestyle competition on Friday 19 August.

Ilyasov was set to challenge for a medal at the Athens 2004 Games before a spinal injury ruled him out of competing. He is now ready to take on the world.

“Training has been very good. I’ve been training twice a day," he said.

“I am aiming for a medal and we will see how we go.

 “It will depend on the draw; if I get one of the top two guys in the division in the first rounds then it will be very difficult.”

One of Australia’s last athletes to compete in Rio will be Prizreni who competes on the final day of the Game, Sunday 21 August.

“I’m really looking forward to the competition,” said Prezreni who will compete in the 65kg freestyle event.

“I’ve been training really hard and looking to maintain the condition I already had leading in.”

It’s not Prezreni’s first Olympic Games with the Albania-born athlete carrying his birth-country’s flag at the Beijing 2008 Games, having also competed at Athens 2004.

He knows just how tough the competition will be.

“The competition, as with all the divisions, is not easy. The level of the wrestlers is quite similar. I’m really hoping for some glory," he said.

“This will be my last Olympics and I know it’s going to be hard but it’s not impossible.”

Find out more on Australia’s freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling representatives.

Matt Bartolo

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