Junior grappler Plank wins gold in wrestling series

SAM Plank admitted he was nervous ahead of his first Lockdown bout but the 12-year-old surprised himself to finish with a gold medal.

"It was very entertaining fighting other people from other gyms," he said. "It was good for my first time actually fighting other gyms.

"I was quite nervous."

Sam, who does parkour and used to play basketball, faced off against fellow Hervey Bay grappler Taj Atzori in their first bout.

 

First place went to 12 year old Sam Plank in the Lock Down Submission and Grappling Series.
First place went to 12 year old Sam Plank in the Lock Down Submission and Grappling Series. Valerie Horton

Their coach Greg Atzori, Taj's dad and a former Australian champion mixed martial artist himself, said it was his favourite match.

"They both went really hard and at the very end of the first round Sam just got the victory which was great work," he said.

"They both competed again. Taj went on to second round, Sam was undefeated and won gold which was great for him."

Taj followed his dad into the sport, for which they train at Greg's gym Samarai Drive MMA.

 

First place went to 12 year old Sam Plank in the Lock Down Submission and Grappling Series and fourth to his ten year old Taj Atzori.
First place went to 12 year old Sam Plank in the Lock Down Submission and Grappling Series and fourth to his ten year old Taj Atzori. Valerie Horton

The 11-year-old said he enjoyed the competition, and felt he improved with every match.

"It was very fun, but very nerve-wracking at the same time," he said.

"Just it being a big event with a lot of people.

"I'll probably get more and more confidence every time. I felt I improved a lot."

Integrated Mixed Martial Arts Academy - Hervey Bay's MMA fighter Greg Atzori 'The Tarantula' is putting in the work for his Brace 41 fight in New Zealand. Photo: Valerie Horton / Fraser Coast Chronicle
Integrated Mixed Martial Arts Academy - Hervey Bay's MMA fighter Greg Atzori 'The Tarantula' is putting in the work for his Brace 41 fight in New Zealand. Photo: Valerie Horton / Fraser Coast Chronicle Valerie Horton

Wrestling as a confidence builder for youngsters

Greg "The Tarantula" Atzori believes wrestling and mixed martial arts can be used as a confidence-building tool for children.

In regards to Sam and Taj's efforts at Lockdown, Atzori said the junior competition allowed not only confidence growth when they wrestled, but they had multiple chances to succeed.

"Taj didn't win a medal or place but was still happy to compete again," he said.

"It's a great lesson for kids to know you're not always going to win but you have to get back up there."

 

First place went to 12 year old Sam Plank in the Lock Down Submission and Grappling Series.
First place went to 12 year old Sam Plank in the Lock Down Submission and Grappling Series. Valerie Horton

Atzori said he believed a clear winner and loser in junior sport could operate as a building block for the real world.

"They both learn from their results," he said.

"Competing is great for kids, having winners and losers is a great building block for future as an adult.

"You don't always win but you have to pick yourself up and keep going. Regardless of the result I'm proud of both kids."



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