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Rotuman Sports

From The Manuatu Standard (21 November 2011)

Antonio scoops golds

by George Heagney

[Note: Vaughan Antonio is a Rotuman from Palmerston north in New Zealand. His father is Sau Ban Antonio and his grandfather is Elekima Antonio from Noa‘tau. He has been competing this year and qualified for the NZ Team to go to the Oceania champs in Sydney Australia.]

Brazilian jiu jitsu fighter Vaughan Antonio isn't getting ahead of himself about being selected for the Oceania Games in January despite a powerful showing at The Trials grappling tournament at the International Pacific College gym on Saturday.

Antonio picked up four gold medals at the event in the Fila no-Gi senior men's, the no-Gi veteran men's, the BJJ Gi senior men's and the Gi veteran men's grades.

It was decided the event would be a qualifier for the Oceania wrestling and grappling tournament in Sydney, but Antonio said he didn't want to get distracted by focusing on being selected.

"That's another kettle of fish," he said. "That's something you have to train for, you have to put a lot of time on the mat for it."

But he added: "If someone rings me up and says `go', I'll jump at the chance."

He said he wouldn't turn down an opportunity to represent New Zealand.

He was spent after a busy day of fighting, but it had paid off with four golds.

"Not a bad result," he said. "I saved my best for last. I had 10 matches in the whole day, which is quite a bit. I'm a bit worse for wear but it's worth it."

Antonio's students picked up four silver medals and a bronze at the tournament, so he was pleased with the way they had developed.

"They did really well, especially some of the younger ones, some of the newer ones," he said.

"It's really good to watch them and see the moves they've done in class, and they pull them off, it shows they're learning a lot."

He said they had wanted to go out with a bang in the last local tournament for the year.

"It's pretty good. The guys did really well, one guy got injured, but I think he put on the best display from a guy in BJJ."

Antonio said it had been a good atmosphere and it was interesting to see the different moves and styles from around the country.

He lost two fights in the no-Gi event but said he managed to work out his opponents during the day.

Organiser Ian Graham, who is also selecting the New Zealand team to go to the Oceania tournament, said Antonio and Deep Waters BJJ's Dazza Popata were in the running.

Popata had a strong tournament, competing in the no-Gi senior white belt grade. Micah Hatch from the UCOL club and Justin Storey from Highbury BJJ were others to perform well on the day.

More than 100 fighters entered the tournament from around the country including clubs from Stratford, Gisborne and Wellington.