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Kiwi Commonwealth Games wrestler has car, passport stolen on eve of departure

New Zealand wrestler Brahm Richards has had his preparation for the Commonwealth Games hampered thanks to a stolen car and passport.

Dave Rowland / Getty Images

New Zealand wrestler Brahm Richards has had his preparation for the Commonwealth Games hampered thanks to a stolen car and passport.

You suspect the thieves were just lucky Brahm Richards didn’t catch them in the act.

Because while he is a pleasant 25-year-old, he is also a Commonwealth Games wrestler, and wouldn’t exactly have been the best person to be crossed when stealing his car, and with it, his passport, on the eve of his departure to Birmingham.

You also now wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of the New Zealander’s first-round opponent when the men’s 65kg freestyle event gets underway at Coventry Arena on Friday night (NZ time), such is the extra irritation that has been pumped into the veins of the Auckland fighter.

Brahm Richards in action at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018.

Anthony Au-Yeung / Photosport

Brahm Richards in action at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018.

Meant to be jetting out to England on Sunday evening, Richards and the New Zealand Olympic Committee were instead left scrambling to rearrange his travel plans, with securing an emergency passport not even as straightforward as it should have been.

The ordeal came on Saturday night when Richards, who made his Games debut on the Gold Coast in 2018, was enjoying dinner with mates at NorthWest Shopping Center, and then upon returning to the central carpark near 9pm, his Mazda Atenza was nowhere to be seen among the 50 or so other cars.

“I thought I was going crazy, you know when you forget where you parked your car,” he said.

“I was like, ‘I swear I remember it parked here’, and I was looking around and I noticed some glass in my car park, so I was like, ‘Oh s – t’.

Richards reported the theft to the police, who had security camera footage from a camera right above the car at their disposal.

“I’ve parked my car there probably 10 time before, but as you know, West Auckland’s kind of getting a bit dodgy with the ram raids and car thefts and stuff like that at the moment,” he said.

“We had a little search around, but there was not much we could do at 9pm. But the gas light was on as well, so they wouldn’t have got far. “

But while the car, which he has owned for a couple of years, was a major taking, it was Richards’ already-packed carry-on bag for the flight which proved the big issue, in it some wrestling gear, a laptop, but , most importantly, his passport.

So then needing to apply for an urgent one, Richards was on Saturday night informed that a computer outage meant he wouldn’t be able to do the online application until 2.30pm on Sunday instead.

Thankfully, after ringing NZOC officials to inform them of his tribulations, first thing Sunday morning he received confirmation that they had managed to push his flight back 24 hours to 5pm Monday.

AARON WOOD / STUFF

New Zealand is sending 232 athletes to the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

“They were onto it straight away and sent me new flights first thing this morning, they were working from the UK so they were up last night.

“Everything will go to plan, it will just be a day late.”

Still, the passport drama alone will come at a cost of around $ 800.

“I’m hoping there’ll be some way of insurance [covering that]but it is what it is, I’ve got to pay it now just to get it, then worry about it afterwards, ”said Richards, whose parents are traveling to support him and depart on Tuesday.

Having taken up wrestling aged nine, Richards won multiple national and Oceania titles and in the last few years has been training at City Kickboxing alongside UFC fighter Kai Kara-France.

He said his preparation for Birmingham had otherwise been good, and he hoped his hard work would pay off on the day, while at least remaining in good spirits about this rather inconvenient hiccup.

“I’m sure we’ll be laughing about it soon.”

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