Barnes on course for India | SASCOC - SASCOC

Barnes on course for India

By Mark Etheridge

Commonwealth Games bound wrestler, Heinrich Barnes was again the top South African performer at the Fila World Senior championships in Moscow, Russia at the weekend.

United States-based Barnes, 23, ended seventh in the 35 participants in his weight division, the best achievement yet of a South African wrestler at world championship level.

More importantly, his current form puts him among the early favourites to medal at Commonwealth in New Delhi, India next month. Barnes, originally from Pretoria, was eventually eliminated in the quarter-finals by the bronze medal winner in the 66-kilogram division, Jabriyal Hasanov of Azerbaijan.

En route to the quarters he scored impressive victories over Ramazan Kambarov of Turkmenistan (7-0, 6-0) as well as former European Junior champion, Ismail Redzhep of Bulgaria (6-0, 6-0).

Barnes is certainly a medal hopeful for South Africa at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He recently completed his Business Management studies at Oregon State University, where he also achieved All-American status.

Although his studies are now complete and he has now switched from a student visa to a working visa, the university remains commited to supporting Barnes until the 2012 Olympics.

Our other four wrestlers in Moscow all failed to get past the early rounds. In the 74kg division, Richard Addinall placed 30th, Gerald Meyer took 22 (from 33 participants) in the 84kg category and Etienne van Huyssteen was a handy 19th. Addinall and Bella-Lufu Hughes both went out in the first round of the Greco-Roman division.

Good news for South African wrestling is that of the Commonwealth countries in action at the championships, only India and Canada had better results than South Africa.

Bad news is that Barnes will come up against Sushil Kumar at the Commonwealth Games. Kumar, 27, poses a formidable threat, having won bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Kumar was also the first Indian wrestler to win a gold medal at world championships.

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