Saturday 17 August 2019

Australian gold title for sumo wrestler Fian (14)

Fian O’Carroll (right) at a competition
Fian O’Carroll (right) at a competition

David Looby

A boy from Inistioge has become the Australian sumo wrestling champion on his way to a career in martial arts.

Fian O'Carroll (14) is the eldest son of Frankie and Fiona. He has a sister Isla (13) and brother, Lewis (9) and all five members of the family train in martial arts, often together. The family moved to Australia in October 2013 when Fian was 8. Frank said: 'He was a very shy child. We wanted to get him involved in an activity that would keep him fit and develop him socially. We decided to try out some classes with the WA Institute of Martial Arts (WAIMA) and after the first week, we knew this was a great fit for Fian and something we wanted to commit to.'

Frank and Fiona weren't wrong as their son was recently crowned Australian sumo wrestling champion in his age group.

Fian started training in Freestyle Martial Arts and his parents noticed that after only a short time he was more confident and more at ease speaking to his instructors and people outside of the dojo. Grading through his belt ranks and performing Katas in front of a crowd encouraged him to step outside of his comfort zone and his confidence grew even more. 'We noticed a big change in him at school in the classroom and out of it as he put himself forward as Sports Faction Captain and was later elected Head Boy in his last year in primary school.'

At Waima he joined the junior leadership team and started assisting in lower ranked classes helping new students and passing on his knowledge. At this time Fian also started training in Muay Thai to further develop his sparring skills.

He graded for his Black Belt in FMA in March 2018 and was awarded Gradee Of The Day for his excellence on the mats. Fian started competing at International Sports Karate Association (ISKA) tournaments in September 2017. At his first WA Open he placed in various sparring competitions as well as Sumo and Sword Combat.

Sumo is technical sport with competitors trying to force each other out of a 3m X 3m ring. Points are also awarded for taking your opponent to the ground.

Sword Combat competitions are in a 7m X 7m square and a padded sword is used to score against your opponent. Points are awarded for clean shots to the head, body or legs.

The sparring events are all stand up fighting competitions with points awarded for clean punching and kicking techniques.

Fian went on to defend his state titles and, in November 2018, went to compete in Sydney at the ISKA National Tournament. A team of 13 competitors travelled to represent WA at the event.

Frank said: 'The competition standard at national level is very high with some martial arts schools dedicating all of their time to training for these competitions. Fian had some very tough rounds in the sparring competitions and made it through to the knock out stages, but unfortunately didn't place for medals.'

Fian made his mark in the competition, taking home medals for Sword Combat and Sumo. After a tough competition he was awarded gold for Sumo and a bronze medal for Sword Combat. The WA team also won medals for Katas and Self Defence displays.

Fian did not compete at the recent WA Open competition but was invited to use his experience of the competitions judge and score at the event

Fian's little brother Lewis (8) and sister Isla (13) are following in his footsteps and both have the rank of Green Belt in FMA. Lewis has also competed in the ISKA tournaments at state level and has won several titles. His most recent victories were in June at the WA Open, where he won gold in Sumo, and bronze in both Point Sparring and Sword Combat.

Isla is part of the WAIMA Demo team and gets special training as part of this elite group. Incorporating some gymnastic and dance elements the team have performed at fates and shows highlighting martial arts and promoting the school.

Fian has recently upped his fight training by joining the Adult Muay Thai class and had his fist adult grading in March. He is ranked as an adult Blue singlet. He will be taking part in his third Muay Thai gym show at the end of April 2020 and hopes to compete in Muay Thai at an ISKA fight night next year.

He is also continuing his FMA training and will attempt his First Degree black belt grading later this year.

He has reached the highest level available as a junior instructor and now helps to train the new leadership members as well as instructing sections of classes. Fian has already been offered a part-time paid position for the WA Institute of Martial Arts - a professional organisation that employs full-time, world class instructors in three schools and with over 2000 members - when he turns 15 this year. He plans to do a traineeship at WAIMA, one day a week through his high school next year to learn what happens off the mats to run a successful dojo. He will also be working towards a diploma in Sports & Recreation as part of the traineeship.

Frankie said: 'Our main reason for training is to learn valuable self defence techniques as well as conflict avoidance and resolution. We enjoy competing for fun and to test our skills against other highly trained and focused individuals. Having our children involved in martial arts has done wonders for their confidence, fitness and strength. The other positive effect has been spending time with other like minded kids and positive role models.'

The instructors encourage them to behave in a respectful manner outside of the dojo and they are always encouraged to help out and give back to the community. 'We are very lucky to have found an interest that we all share and that has a positive effect on us and others around us.

'We train with world class instructors and never stop learning. There are always new techniques to learn and improvements to be made. Apart from martial arts we make the most of this amazing country that we live in. We love spending time at the beach, swimming and body boarding. We love getting into the hills in the cooler weather and taking in the amazing scenery when out hiking. We enjoy the outdoor lifestyle and get away camping when we can. The kids are also involved with The Hamersley Scout group and are involved in outdoor and community activities.'

New Ross Standard