Sahit Prizreni has high hopes of putting wrestling on the map when he dons the green and gold of Australia at the Rio Olympics this month.
The 33-year-old has qualified in the 65kg freestyle and is one of our best hopes for a medal in a sport he has cherished for as long as he can recall.
A household name in his native Albania, Prizreni has fast made a splash in Australian wrestling since being naturalised in 2014 and winning back-to-back national titles in 2015 and 2016.
He has been honing his skills at Maribyrnong Secondary College under Australia’s most successful wrestling coach, 84-year-old Sam Parker.
Parker sees Prizreni as the best chance yet to snare a medal.
Prizreni competed for Albania at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and marched with the country’s flag at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Games, after finishing third in the 60kg World freestyle championships in 2007.
“I think the Olympics is the biggest thing for each athlete,” he said.
“I’ve got all the experience I need; I think I feel very prepared.”
Prizreni said success would be an opportunity to “pay back” Parker for believing in him and a chance to say thank you to Australia for being so welcoming.
He also hopes it would raise the profile of a sport he says is one of the most complex in the Games.
“It’s about so many things, the way you move, walk, speak, it’s about strength but also flexibility,” he said.
“When I was growing there was nothing but wrestling in my home town. This is my life.”