Wrestling hopeful Spiteri seeking help in medal quest
- Credit: PA
Chloe Spiteri has been overcoming obstacles for years and now she wants to end her wrestling career on a high with a medal at the Commonwealth Games this summer.
The former Barking Abbey pupil, who lives in Collier Row, was named in England's nine-strong squad for the event in Birmingham, having just missed out on bronze at the 2014 Games in Glasgow.
And the 10-time British champion is hoping to inspire more women to follow in her footsteps and take up the sport.
"If I put the work in, I can medal at the Games and go out on a high, that would be the dream," she said.
"My ultimate goal is to get the governing body to increase participation. I want to set up my own academy and build champions in this country.
"Nothing is impossible. I want to empower women in a masculine sport and be an ambassador and role model for others."
Spiteri got involved in wrestling by chance, but grabbed the opportunity with both hands and has never looked back.
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"When I was 17, I was playing football in a multi-sports day during the summer holidays at Mile End and was told I looked strong and should try wrestling," she added.
"I was playing against a wrestling coach's kid. I had to travel to Lewisham and Haringey on the bus, long journeys from Barking to Wood Green.
"In my first year I was junior National champion and winning with my strength. There were a lot of skills to learn."
After getting 10 GCSEs at grades A to C, Spiteri went on to study a Sports Science & Education degree at Brunel University.
"I had been wrestling for a year when I started at Brunel University," she said.
"I had to travel to Kensington, Shepherds Bush, Latymer Road, two or three times a week, which meant more bus rides. It was a lot of commitment to get to training."
But she kept at it and went to the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
"I'd done athletics - 100m, javelin and shot - football, rowing on regional squad training at Docklands with the Royal Docks club, training for London 2012 at one stage," she added.
"I had Channel 4 following me for a documentary and a rugby team saw me and knew I could tackle and I ended up playing for Richmond seconds and thirds, at quite a high level.
"Glasgow 2014 I had a really tough draw. I won my first round but then had the World University champion from Canada in the semi-final.
"Then I went into the bronze-medal match against the 10-time African champion who is now an Olympic silver medalist. I went the full rounds with her and scored points, so I showed my potential."
Eight years on, Spiteri is hoping that experience and further training will help her realise her ambition of making it onto the podium.
"The last four or five years I've been doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and should get my purple belt soon. I won the English National Championships in November," she said.
"Wrestling is my speciality. I'm five foot six, quite a small torso, but long arms and legs. The competition is freestyle wrestling. I'm more Greco style, upper body only, focusing on locks and throws.
"Nine athletes have been selected and I'm the only one from the South. It's based in Manchester and I have to make sacrifices, travel up and stay in hotels."
It has been a tough journey to get to this point for Spiteri, emotionally and financially, and she is now looking for help.
"The whole journey over 15 years I've been self-funding," she said.
"In 2015 I went abroad 11 times, travelling to competitions without a coach, having others look after me and make friends with me. I've still got bills to pay.
"My mum has been my main support. But Sue Knowles, my SENCO at Barking Abbey, was always there for me and believed in me and without her I don't think I would've got through my GCSEs.
"Getting here has been tough. It has meant showing others that nothing is impossible.
"From childhood seizures, Great Ormond Street care, school bullies who named me "disability kid", low expectations from some teachers and professionals, and generally being told what I couldn't do. I have always fought back.
"I simply cannot compete with other internationals that have access to the best coaches in the world, international competitions, travel expenses, training camps, physiotherapy and more. They are able to train full time without employment obligations."
Spiteri hopes her fundraiser will give her opportunity to prepare and have an equal chance of winning a medal.
If you can help, donate at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-eng-wrestler-chloe-bring-bk-a-medal-cwg-2022.