Athletes head to Tahiti

Excited be part of the Tavana Ma’ohi Cup in Tahiti this Saturday are Sara Tayland, coach Marcos...
Excited be part of the Tavana Ma’ohi Cup in Tahiti this Saturday are Sara Tayland, coach Marcos Junior, and James McFelin at Invercargill’s Carlson Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club.
Southland Brazilian jujitsu athletes will take their grappling skills to Tahiti for an invitational tournament.

Four members from Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Invercargill, plus one Dunedin fighter, will take on Brazilian jujitsu clubs in Tahiti at the Tavana Ma’ohi Cup.

The purpose of the event was to showcase the Brazilian jujitsu sport through a competition between martial arts experts from New Zealand and Tahiti.

"We were invited to Tahiti to take part in the event so that it would promote jujitsu in the country," Carlson Gracie club coach and black belt holder Marcos Junior said.

"We start with a grappling competition between the different age groups and then the main event is in the evening and that is when New Zealand goes up against Tahiti."

Four of the Invercargill club’s athletes, James McFelin, Sara Tayland, Ryan Edgeley and Eugene Francis, were selected to take part in the tournament.

"I started out doing judo and represented New Zealand as a kid then I got into Brazilian jujitsu in Invercargill at a time when little was known about the sport here," Verdon College teacher James McFelin said.

McFelin will be competing in the under 88kg division and looks forward to fighting the opponent he will be matched up against.

Despite taking a few years longer to obtaining his black belt this year, he said he was ready for the challenge.

Sara Tayland, 46, took up the sport only a little over two years ago and has since been travelling the world taking part in international and domestic competitions.

She earned a bronze award at the NZ Grappler Oceania Champs in Auckland in April.

"I didn’t expect to be chosen to go to Tahiti.

"I fight against other women who are in their 20s so it’s a privilege to be able to go and represent my club," Tayland said.

Tayland holds a white belt and will compete in the under 70kg bout but will fight in the blue belt division.

 - By Nina Tapu