Mitch Vanderhaar took up martial arts with Kumiai-Ryu Martial Arts Lithgow as an effort to keep fit.
“The kids were doing it and I thought, why not?” he said.
“I enjoyed the training, training with Rob (Williams).”
Robert Williams is the Australian Wushu Sanda coach and draws fighters to Lithgow to train for the sport.
From pursuing the sport for fun, Vanderhaar went on to compete in the NSW Titles in Lithgow in 2016. He continued to compete, taking part in the Australian title contest in Melbourne.
He has enjoyed his successes, taking a gold medal in the NSW title and silver at the Australian titles.
It is once more preparation time for Vanderhaar, in the lead-up to the Australian Sanda titles, to be held in Melbourne later this year.
His preparations had a good start, with his recent gold medal win in the under 80kg full contact Sanda event at Port Macquarie.
Vanderhaar said he had a good match over three rounds against Adam Brooks of Tamworth.
He qualified to represent Australia last year, but was unable to compete due to financial considerations. Vanderhaar was keen to once again win a place to represent Australia.
At the Oceania event in Melbourne on October 21, the Australian team for 2019 will be selected, to take part in a competition trip to Shanghai.
“Everyone wants to fight for their country,” he said.
He keeps up a demanding schedule, training four days a week, with running several times a week.
Mitch thanked his coach, Williams, and his family for supporting him during his training and competitions.
Williams said martial arts was a very good thing for the youth of Australia.
“They teach respect, discipline and fitness and helps in everyday life,” Williams said.