Road to Rio: Albanian wrestler Sahit Prizreni hoping for glory


Wrestler Sahit Prizreni once carried the Albanian flag into the Olympics. Now he's hoping to compete under the Australian flag in Rio.

In Albania, Sahit Prizreni is a sporting legend. By August he's aiming to be a legend here too.

"Olympic medal is the only one medal missing from career so that would be the cherry in the cake as they say," he told SBS News.

"I truly believe I can make the Olympics. I'm the one of the guys who can win a medal."

The pride of Albanian wrestling, Prizreni has won numerous international titles, competed at the 2004 Olympics and carried his country's flag at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games.

"This is something special, so for me is a great memory, but now I'm here I belong to Australia," he said.

After devoting 20 years of his career to Albanian wrestling, he moved to Australia and became an Australian citizen in 2014, causing some upset in his birth nation.

"Politics and sport doesn't go well so I think that was the main problem," he said.

"I've given 20 years of my youth to Albanian wrestling but I think I've done more than everyone else in other sports so they have no choice but to accept my decision."

Training under Australia's most successful wrestling coach, 84-year-old Sam Parker, Prizreni won the Australian Nationals last year, putting him in Olympic contention in the 65kg freestyle category.

Parker, a former Olympian himself, has coached dozens of athletes, but none like Prizreni.

"He would be probably the best," he said.

"I've had some real good wrestlers but not as good as him."

Parker describing the two-time Olympian as Australia's best hopes of winning a wrestling medal in Rio.

"We'll claim him of course," Parker said.

"He's an all-round wrestler. He knows exactly what’s coming next and what's about to happen. He's just a cut above the rest."

Prizreni is hoping to boost not just the profile of the sport in Australia, but the profile of the country as a wrestling nation.

"What an athlete can do a politician can't do - the promotion it can give a country just from one athlete," he said.

The 33-year-old will compete in Algeria next month as he aims to book his ticket to Rio

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