Paris Olympics: Tayla Ford selected to become first female wrestler to represent New Zealand at Olympics

  • 11/04/2024
Tayla Ford.
Tayla Ford. Photo credit: Photosport

New Zealand will take a woman wrestler to the Olympics for the first time Paris in later this year, with Tayla Ford selected to the wrestling team.

Nelson-born, Christchurch-raised Ford, 30, has been competing for more than 20 years at both national and international level.

She wrestled at the Commonwealths Games in Glasgow 2014 and Birmingham 2022, winning bronze medals at each.

Ford says she's still processing her selection, which was the culmination of a life-long goal.

"It's a dream come true and it still feels pretty surreal at the moment," said Ford.

"I've always wanted to make the Olympics, and to become the first female wrestler from New Zealand to do so is pretty special.

Tayla Ford (R) shows off her Olympics bronze.
Tayla Ford (R) shows off her Olympics bronze. Photo credit: Photosport

"Back in Glasgow, I made history as the first New Zealand woman to win a Commonwealth Games medal in wrestling. It's always been a goal of mine to make history, it's part of what motivates me so it's pretty amazing."

Ford secured qualification for Paris last month, winning her pool in the U68kg division at the Africa / Oceania qualifier in Egypt.

She says she began wrestling when her Dad heard that women’s wrestling had been added to the sport programme at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. 
"He wrestled in high school, so he got back into it and I joined him," Ford recalled.

"We had a mat in the garage where we’d train and we had a video tape of wrestling at the Sydney Olympics which we’d just play constantly while we were training.”

Ford is now based in Adelaide, where she coaches future Olympic wrestling hopefuls.

"It's fantastic to have our first ever female wrestler selected for the Olympic Games," said NZOC's Nicki Nicol. 

"I know a huge amount of work has gone in to get to this point and I’d like to congratulate Tayla for her perseverance, and for showing a generation of young New Zealand wrestlers what’s possible when you put your mind to it."

The Olympic wrestling programme will be held from August 5-11 at the Champ-de-Mars Arena in Central Paris.