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New Delhi: Barnes confident

By Mark Etheridge

Leading grappler Heinrich Barnes goes into the next month’s Commonwealth Games buoyed by his seventh spot at the recent Fila World Wrestling Championships in Moscow, Russia.

Originally from Pretoria and now based in Oregon, United States, Barnes was seventh of 35 contestants in the 66-kilogram discipline.

With only Canada and India of the Commonwealth countries in action at Moscow placing better than South Africa, Barnes is a very real medal chance for Team SA in India.

“Moscow was great and I had a┬ágood competition,” said Barnes.┬á”We were in Hungary for about┬átwo weeks before we left for Moscow. We had a great training phase with the Hungarian wrestling team at their Olympic training site, it was also a great place to get acclimatised at.

“I really enjoyed Moscow,┬ábecause Russia is one of the world’s strongest wrestling countries. While in Russia I tried mostly to stay mentally ready for the day when I had to compete. I knew I had done all the right training until now to be able to compete with all the other countries and all I had to do was to get myself ready to go out and fight every match till the end.

“With every match I tried to take control of the the match┬áby setting the pace and scoring the first points.”

As far as New Delhi and India are concerned: “The Commonwealth is going to be a great tournament, and will give me another chance to wrestle with some world placers. I’ll have Sushil Kumar from India, the 2010 world champion and Haislan Garcia from Canada who took fifth at 2010 Worlds. I’ve wrestled Kumar in December 2009 at the Commonwealth championship final where he beat me.

“As for training in US, I’m going to try to keep training in the US for at least the next two years so that I will be ready for the 2012 Olympics and I plan to continue training at Oregon State University.”