#TuksWrestling: Arno van Zyl plans to be competitive at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games in England

Posted on July 22, 2022

It is said that "the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time", which is precisely what Arno van Zijl of TuksWrestling, plans on doing at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games in England. 

But don't get him wrong. The Tuks wrestler is not planning to go on an eating marathon. It is just that he has a plan of how to go about trying to medal at the Freedom Games. 

When asked to elaborate, he asks, "how do you win a marathon?" Then he answers.

"The only way to do so is to run stride for stride. It does not help to worry about the hill at the 10km marker or how hot it will be towards the race's latter stages. You deal with every obstacle as it arises, the 19-year-old explains. 

"That is why from the first minute I step onto the mats in Birmingham, only one thing will matter: scoring points. One at a time. Because if you get points, there is always a chance of winning. It does not help to worry about how many fights you got to win to medal or against whom you are competing. 

"My dad once told me every opponent has two arms, two legs, and a head. He meant that with every fight, the playing field is level. Sometimes an opponent might be physically stronger or tactically savvier. But if you can keep your cool, there is always a way to neutralise their strengths."

According to the South African senior and junior under-74kg champion, one important lesson he has learned is finding a balance between confidence and overconfidence. 

"It helps to have a bit of jitter before a fight as it gets the adrenaline pumping. But if you are too nervous, you tend to make mistakes. The same goes for confidence. I had lost fights because I was too cocky, thinking I had won before the 'battle' started. But don't undersell yourself. If you aim only to win a bronze medal, there is a real chance of finishing 10th. 

A definite highlight this season was winning a bronze medal at the 2022 African Senior Championships in Morocco. This was his Senior Champs debut.

"I won three of my four fights without conceding any points. I lost one fight because I was not focused enough and I learned from that mistake."

Van Zyl plans to fly from Birmingham to Bulgaria to compete at the 2022 World Junior Wrestling Championships in Sofia.

"It will be my first and last opportunity to compete at the World Junior Championships. I want to do what no South African wrestler has yet been able to do, which is to win gold. It means I will have to be at my utmost best.

- Author Wilhelm De Swardt
Published by Bhekani Ndebele

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