Naomi de Bruine has her eyes firmly on a Commonwealth Games gold medal, and she’ll throw her weight around to get it.
The 22-year-old from Winmalee will represent Australia on the Gold Coast next month in wrestling, just a year after taking up the sport.
She conquered her opposition in three qualification rounds in the 75kg weight class last year, following a solid foundation in judo, which she’d been honing since age six.
Moving from the Netherlands to Australia 10 years ago, de Bruine has competed in multiple national and Oceania championships in judo, including the 2014 Youth Olympic Games. Her family moved to Winmalee in 2016.
“Many of the techniques [in judo] can transfer to wrestling,” de Bruine said.
As judo was an optional sport not included at every Commonwealth Games, including on the Gold Coast, but will be considered a core sport from 2022, when it was suggested de Bruine try wrestling instead, she grabbed the opportunity.
“Wrestling is purely about wanting to beat the other person,” de Bruine said.
“You want to take them down with your bare hands with nothing to grab but skin. It’s like fresh air, it’s really exciting.”
At the Games, the wrestlers will face off in a personal war on a 12m by 12m mat, eyeballing each other to quickly determine their first move.
Any weakness will be exploited, with athletes using a range of grapples, holds, throws and pins to control the contest and ultimately win.
“Movement is my advantage, even though I’m supposed to be called a heavyweight,” de Bruine said.
“I’ll be working on a lot of agility stuff, reaction time, working on quickness and implementation in a match situation.”
Preparation has been intense. Holding down a fulltime job as a special needs teacher in Kellyville, de Bruine also squeezes in a couple of hours of training every day. That’s a mix of wrestling at UFC Gym in Wetherill Park guided by coach Justin Holland, as well as cardio and circuit training, including strength and conditioning at Anytime Fitness in Springwood.
Next week she heads to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra for a two-week training camp with her seven teammates to fine tune her technique before the Games begin.
“I’m super excited, we have a great team of wrestlers,” de Bruine said.
“At training I’ve been working hard; I’m in it to win it.”
She will compete in the 76kg women’s freestyle section from April 12, and hopes to watch catch some of the boxing, swimming, athletics and rugby sevens action in between pre-Games preparations.