Give me strength. More often than not a cry of frustration, but for wrestler Kathryn Marsh, it has another meaning entirely.
A qualified Strength & Conditioning Coach, Kathryn spends her time helping other athletes improve their physical strength. However, following a labrum tear in her hip last year, Kathryn had to call on her own inner strength to recover in time to qualify for Glasgow 2014.
And the 30-year-old’s strength of character was there for all to see as she set the standard at the final qualifying event to earn her place on Team Scotland.
“It took quite a while to figure out what the injury was and then it became clear I needed an operation,” said Kathryn who will compete in the 55kg category in Glasgow. “I’d had little niggly injuries before, but never had an injury needing an operation. When I went for the operation I fainted so they couldn’t do it and I had to go back again.
“I feel fine now, but it’s fair to say it has been a hectic year first with the operation then with all the recovery and so I wasn’t long back on the mat when I qualified at the English Senior Championships. I got what I needed so I was really pleased.
“When I thought I would miss out on the chance of competing, that’s when I realised how much I wanted it so when I actually qualified I was super-happy.”
Between now and the Games, Kathryn has stepped back from her day job and will be training and competing abroad as she builds towards her debut on the mat at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) on Thursday 31 July.
Glasgow 2014 will be Kathryn’s second Commonwealth Games following a fifth place finish at Delhi 2010, and despite being one of the older contingent on the 14-strong team, she only took up the sport five years ago in a bid to improve her Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) skills.
She added: “I went through a phase when I was struggling with my injury that I was going to go back to Mixed Martial Arts. I will see after the Games what I want to do, but I just want to enjoy what I’m doing. If I like it then I’ll keep doing it.
“Wrestling is really fun as it’s such a challenge. It’s physical, but really tactical as well. You have to set up your opponent and if you just jump then you’re going to get nowhere. I like how it challenges you – you have to be fit, strong, and smart too.
“We have a really good group of wrestlers on the team, many with lots of past Commonwealth Games experience. And even with the young guys, they’ve actually wrestled for longer than us as they’ve been doing it since they were tiny and they’ve been doing really well internationally so it should be really good.”
Kathryn’s memories of competing in Delhi – where wrestling is a national sport – have given her every reason to expect an even better experience in Glasgow.
“Delhi was amazing and we were blown away by the atmosphere for the wrestling, it was absolutely cracking,” said Kathryn. “To know that the wrestling is almost sold-out for Glasgow is brilliant. I went down with a friend to watch the wrestling at the London 2012 Olympics and when the British girl Olga was on, the whole crowd was going wild and everyone was shouting her name. I think we will be surprised about just how good the atmosphere will be.
“I would like to medal and it will be good fun to be on the same team as a lot of the athletes I work with and know really well. It feels like a big community, everyone mingles and cheers each other on.”
You can follow Kathryn on Twitter @marsh_gallagher
Photo credit: Alistair Devine