Belfast Telegraph

Hugh McCloskey has an unbreakable grip on his sport

By Nik Simon

Hugh McCloskey believes wrestling in Northern Ireland can emulate the success of boxing and judo in the Commonwealth Games after the Limavady youngster narrowly missed out on a bronze medal in Glasgow.

With a successful history in combative sports, McCloskey believes Team Northern Ireland can draw upon its expertise to create medal-winning wrestlers at future competitions.

The 22-year-old was beaten by New Zealand's Sam Belkin in the 97kg division bronze medal match at the Scottish Exhibition Centre yesterday, but has promised to return and also focus his attention on developing the country's next generation of talent.

"My goal was to come here and represent Northern Ireland well, and I think I've done that," said McCloskey.

"I think the track record of Commonwealth sports in Northern Ireland suggests this is a sport we can do well in in the future.

"We punch well above our weight in boxing and also in the judo – there's no reason why wrestling can't be the same.

"As well as competing, I want to get my coaching qualifications and try to help grow the sport in Northern Ireland.

"I want to show people that it is a real sport and very much available to anyone.

"I'm one of the younger guys in the heavyweight division so, fingers crossed, I'll make the next Games," said McCloskey.

"You've got guys like Usain Bolt walking around the athletes' village and to be competing on a par with some of these guys is a huge confidence booster.

"It's a bit late for Rio because they want you on the pathway when you're 18. But maybe Tokyo 2020.

"I've done mixed martial arts, judo, ju-jitsu and rugby. But this is it – I'm in wrestling until the wheels fall off."

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