Wrestling: Todd aiming to keep a hold on title

Jess Todd trains at Todd's Gym, preparing for the New Zealand grappling and wrestling...
Jess Todd trains at Todd's Gym, preparing for the New Zealand grappling and wrestling championships this weekend. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Jess Todd can wrestle with the best of them.

But now she is getting to grips with grappling.

They both take place on a mat and are one-on-one, but one is not like the other.

Todd (21) is defending her queen of the mat title at this Saturday's New Zealand grappling and wrestling championships.

Todd, who has been wrestling since she was 12, is competing in female wrestling and also submission grappling.

She is a wrestler of high ability, hoping to go to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year, but admits grappling, which comes from jujitsu, is something slightly more foreign to her.

''The technique is more about how you react on the ground, which is a bit different from wrestling. About submissions, armbars, chokes. But I am slowly learning, although it is a bit off the cuff,'' she said.

She had trained as a wrestler all her life and still saw that as the main string to her bow.

But grappling was growing in popularity, so she was training once a week in that art to get the hang of it.

''I probably need to train a bit more in it but it is a hard balance between life, study and wrestling. It is hard to fit it all in.''

Todd is in her final year of an honours degree in computer science at the University of Otago, and will be hitting the job market at the end of the year.

But come this Saturday, computer programming and algorithms will be away from her mind as she looks to once again be queen of the mat.

To keep the belt, she has to win every bout she competes in, although she is still not sure who is going to turn up.

Todd is part of large group that will contest the championships, which are being held in Dunedin for the first time.

The New Zealand grappling and wrestling association is a relatively new group, created to help competitors compete in several categories.

The group has switched to a summer season and competes on Saturdays throughout the season.

Defending their king of the mat titles in the male categories are Timaru's Scott McGregor and Christchurch's Sam Belkin, who went to the Delhi Commonwealth Games.

Competitors line up in freestyle, female and Greco-Roman wrestling, as well as submission grappling codes.

Grapplers are classed on the wearing of a gi, or jacket, and submissions determine the winner.

Just under 200 entries have been confirmed for the championships at the Lion Foundation Arena.

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