June 9 - Australian freestyle wrestler Farzad Tarash has been confirmed as the country's only participant in the sport at the London 2012 Olympics.
The -66kg wrestler secured his spot with a victory at last week's Australian Championships in Perth, where he beat Beijing 2008 Olympian Matt D'Aquino, who also missed out on a spot in the judo team last month.
Tarash (pictured above) shone earlier this year at a qualifying event in Morocco, where he beat home favourite Bentlea Oulad before losing out in the final.
His silver medal there was the requirement for securing a London 2012 spot, and following his victory against D'Aquino last week, the Australian Olympic Committee has now confirmed his place at the Olympics.
"I had a few matches that I needed to come through to win back my title, after I was out with injury last year, and ensure that I made the Olympic team," Tarash, 25, said.
"Everything went to plan and I qualified which is great.
"To make not only the biggest event in my sport but the biggest in all sports, the Olympic Games, is a great achievement for me.
"It is a great feeling and I look forward to competing there.
"It has been a goal of mine to make the Olympics since I stepped into the senior division and the years and years of training have finally paid off."
Wrestling runs in the family, as Tarash's father was a champion in the sport in his native Iran.
Tarash moved from Iran to Australia as a child, and his brothers Mehrdad (pictured above in blue) – a competitor at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games – and Farfhad, who also accomplished wrestlers, have helped his progression to the top.
"It is great to have my two brothers training with me," Tarash said.
"We train twice a day and they push me to work harder and get the best out of myself."
Tarash will return 'home' to Iran to fine tune his wrestling skills, to ensure he "has some tough competition with different fighting styles to get me ready".
"It is also handy as we can leave straight from there and head to London which is not too far away," he added.
With the Olympics being the pinnacle of the sport, Tarash is confident he can represent his country with pride.
"I want to prepare as well as I can, perform at my best and give myself the best shot to do myself and my country proud and hopefully that is good enough to win a medal," he said.
Australia sent four athletes to the Beijing 2008 Olympics in wrestling, but a change to the qualifying system made their task harder this time around.
This meant Ivan Popov, the son of Soviet Olympic medallist Vladimir, missed out in the 120kg Greco-Roman division.
Popov won Australia's first Commonwealth Games wrestling gold in 32 years at Delhi in 2010.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]