So I may be a day late but who’s counting? I would love to say
I’ve spent the last 24 hours reflecting quietly on the past year but as you too
will soon see … I really don’t have time for that kind of behaviour!
The past year has been an amazing success for me on the wrestling mats and has come with the typical craziness that always seem to be prevalent in my life. I competed in my first major games, won my 2nd National Championship, and travelled to 8 different countries.
It was my second season without any varsity wrestling commitments
but it was once again weird not spending the month of February travelling
Canada competing against this country’s top university wrestlers. I miss not
being a Dino however my focus has now shifted to be 100% set on domination at
the international level. This has opened up the opportunity for different
competitions and a more specifically tailored training regime.
The international wrestling season is dominated during the summer
months. In March, I won the Canadian National Championships but had to
wrestle-off later in July to secure my spot of the World Team due to an injury
provision. My summer was jam-packed with training camps and competitions just
the way I like it.
To secure my spot on the World Team I had to win my wrestle-off.
Rather than preparing for a tournament style competition where I would be
advancing through a group of athletes; preparing for a wrestle-off presented new
challenges for me to overcome. I had weeks to mentally and physically prepare to
wrestle one specific opponent. In this case it would be a teammate, Olympian,
and tough opponent I had never beat before. This presents one of the reasons why
I love the sport of wrestling so much, it is a physical and emotional battle at
the most primal level that requires intense energy both in body and mind to
overcome. It is in that struggle that we find out who we truly are.
As I wrote in a previous blog post, I went into the wrestle-off
poised and prepared and despite, some unforeseen technically issues, I was able
to come out victorious and secure my spot representing Canada at the Senior
In July, I competed in my first major games (the FISU Games in
Kazan, Russia) and WOW!? It was such a surreal experience. I enjoyed every
second of the atmospheric village, the friendly Canadian team, the thrill of
competition, and the welcoming Russian hosts. I finished with a bronze medal and
was happy but hungry for more!
I returned to the mats in Calgary with a sense of urgency and
brought that determination to my next competition in Spala, Poland in late
August. Despite missing my flight out of Calgary, I arrived relaxed and excited
to compete. During the tournament, I had 4 tough matches and found myself down
numerous times but I kept coming back and kept fighting. I beat the number 1
& 2 ranked girls in the world as well as a former Olympic medalist. Standing
on top of the podium that day I was so proud of the way I wrestled which for me
was the most rewarding part.
My first Senior World Championships in September came as a shock.
I went in mentally and physically prepared however this was the big dance and
everything felt a little different. My coaches were prou do my performance
however I lost in the dying seconds of my last match (the bronze medal
semi-final) and to be so close is always the hardest. I competed well but didn’t
achieve my goal of coming Top 3.
It was a year of transformation for my wrestling but also for the sport
of wrestling. As a sport, we had to fight for our spot on the Olympic Program
and in the process there were significant changes to the way the sport is
participated in. New rules, new weight classes, new management; it was a year of
many, many changes.
(If this has you asking some questions, I recommend you
read women’s national team coach, Leigh Vierling’s blog. He has written a great
re-cap of the past year’s events from a Wrestling Canada perspective http://cawanatcoach.blogspot.ca/?spref=fb)
During the Save Olympic Wrestling Campaign I was able to
participate in two marquee events, a women’s dual in Niagara Falls, Canada
against Ukraine and USA in June and a showcase match against 2013 World Bronze
Medalist, Adeline Gray in Madison Square Gardens, New York in December.
In 2014, I will be competing in a new weight class and will be
moving up from 72kg to 75kg. I will be travelling to Asia for the first time and
competing in my first World Cup in Tokyo, Japan. I will also be cheering on Canada and a certain ruggedly handsome Bobsleigh athlete at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. I seem to be making a habit now of attending Olympic Games and will continue to work tirelessly to change that status as a mere attendee into something more substantial.
My upcoming year holds so many more unknown, yet to be realized
opportunities and I revel in the process of seeking out these new challenges and
opportunities. I am so blessed with all the incredible things in my life and I
would not be able to realize any of it without the numerous supporters in my
life including family, coaches, teammates, and friends.
Here’s to 2014. Bring it on.
My 2013 Wrestling Highlights
· Canadian National Champion
· Pan-American Championships -Bronze Medal
· Universiade Games (FISU) – Bronze Medal
· Poland Open Champion
· Senior World Championships – 7th Place
· Wrestled in Madison Square Gardens, New York in front of 10,000 people
· Travelled to USA, Panama, Australia, NZ, Germany, Poland, Russia, Hungary
Erica Wiebe is a Canadian freestyle wrestler and Bachelor of Arts student at the University of Calgary. Her passion for wrestling and writing combine in the words of this blog, sprinkled with a strong opinion on certain matters and a hint of feminist thrown in for good measure.