Coming to grips with stiff competition

How long would you last against some of the best wrestlers in the country?

CAPTION: Navy Able Seaman Kyle Mainey, in blue, competes in the freestyle wrestling 92kg division at the 2023 Senior National Wrestling Championships at PCYC Lang Park, Brisbane. Story and photo by Corporal Jacob Joseph.

Two members of the ADF Combat Sports Association put their skills to the test at the 2023 Senior National Wrestling Championships this month, showing off grappling and body slamming that would make a hardened Pankration athlete proud.

2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment’s Major Ben Gooley’s and HMAS Bathurst’s Able Seaman Kyle Mainey were in the freestyle wrestling 79kg and 92kg divisions respectively and Able Seaman Mainey was also in the 87kg Greco Roman division.

They rubbed shoulders with more than 140 other AIS and amateur wrestlers competing for a spot on the national team, with some matches called well before the six-minute cut-off and others going down to the wire.

Both men were held winless in the face of stiff competition.

Able Seaman Mainey’s first match was against a five-time national champion.

Major Gooley was up against a similar calibre opponent.

The 2018 inter-brigade combative tournament 70-80kg winner said it was one of the best things about the nationals, which gave amateurs opportunities against the top tier.

“You’re in with the sharks and you either sink or swim,” Major Gooley said.

“There are guys who are trying to get to the Olympics, then there are other wrestlers who are working hard in their spare time but it’s not their profession.

“The opportunity to put yourself against the top guys to see where you’re at is valuable.”

It was Major Gooley’s first time at the nationals and Able Seaman Mainey’s second.

“I went from not getting any points in my first nationals to almost winning two freestyle matches this year,” Able Seaman Mainey said.

Points were awarded for performing a takedown, pinning or pushing an opponent off the mat and after six minutes, the wrestler with the most points wins.

The referee can call a match if a wrestler has their shoulders pinned to the mat or when a wrestler gets ahead by a certain number of points.

Able Seaman Mainey is the style representative for freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling and hoped to raise the sport’s profile and attract more people so they could secure funding to compete at national-level tournaments.

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CAPTION: Army Major Ben Gooley, in red, competes in the freestyle wrestling 79kg division at the 2023 Senior National Wrestling Championships. Photo by Corporal Jacob Joseph.


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