Eighteen year old Ross Connelly from Cumbernauld was the top Scottish performer at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships as he struck bronze in the 57kg weight category, capping a fantastic year which has also seen him take bronze at the Junior Ontario Cup in July.
Three Scottish wrestlers, including Glasgow 2014 bronze medallist Vio Etko, travelled to the event in Johannesburg, South Africa, event but it was Connelly who shone at the milestone event on the road to next April’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.
Team Scotland caught up with a delighted Connelly as he travelled back to Scotland, hoping his performance might land him a place on the plane to Australia next year.
My aims heading out to South Africa were just to perform to the best of my ability and to take one match at a time. I also wanted to test myself for the first time against Commonwealth competition.
With regards to the competition I was placed in a pool alongside two South Africans and New Zealand. My team mate Vio, India, Canada and Pakistan were in the other pool. I won my first match against New Zealand. I then lost to a physically strong South African in the semi-final. However due to him making the final I was able to wrestle for 3rd/5th later in the day. I wrestled the other South African for 3rd and managed to win 12-2.
I was delighted with my medal, although I wish I could have been in the final. I am still very happy as I felt I had worked hard throughout the year to prepare for this tournament.
This tournament was a great learning opportunity for me. This was my first time I have competed against guys that may be at the Commonwealth Games in April so for me it was good to be exposed to this. Also it highlighted some of my strengths and weaknesses which will allow me to improve and work on these in the future.
I would like to think it has set me up well for the Games in April, however the team has not been selected yet so I just need to continue training hard and hope I make the team!
It would be a dream come true to be selected. I would aim to prepare the best I can in order to perform my best come competition day. I would also just try and learn from those around me at the Games in order to continue to develop.
My ultimate ambitions in the sport are to be the best I can be, to stay healthy and continue to have fun!
Part of the Achieve programme for Glasgow 2014, which gave young athletes and coaches the chance to experience the Games environment, Connelly will be hoping to book his spot on Team Scotland when the Wrestling team is selected in February.
All this week Wrestling is in the spotlight as we countdown to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games – look out for #TeamScotSportFocus on Team Scotland’s website and social media channels