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Ben Pratt wrestles his way to Youth Olympic Games

He signed up for wrestling at 12, sick of bullying at school and thinking he would be able to protect himself by mimicking the moves of World Wrestling Entertainment superstars.

Four years on, Canberra's Ben Pratt is Australia’s only wrestling representative at the World Youth Olympics, beginning in Nanjing, China, later this week.

''I was getting picked on a lot when I was younger, especially in primary school and early on in high school, and basically I didn’t like getting picked on. So I took up wrestling in Year 7,'' Pratt said.

''I used to watch the WWE when I was younger and when I first signed up I thought it was going to be like that.

''Then, when it wasn’t, I still really enjoyed myself and stuck with it ... now that I’m older, I’m sick of the WWE and I love this.''

Pratt, 16, participates in freestyle wrestling, an Olympic sport. He was dominant during the recent Oceania Championships held in American Samoa, claiming gold in the 100kg cadet division. He won the final 10-0.


Pratt also plays rugby union with Uni-Norths Owls and Erindale College, the ACT Brumbies fan hoping wrestling could also help him on the way to a professional rugby career.

''I’ve been playing rugby for close to nine years and  ... another reason why I took up wrestling was to improve on that. Wrestling has gone well and all the rest but I’m still doing it for rugby, I suppose.''

Pratt joins an Australian team of 90 at the Youth Olympic Games, which runs from August 16 to 28, and includes athletes from 200 countries. 

''I don’t compete until the second-last day of competition, so I don’t have to worry too much about acclimatising early,'' Pratt said.

''There is so much to do and plenty of activities that will keep me busy, and I’ll definitely be going down and supporting the girls in the rugby sevens.''