We returned back from the beauty and excitement of Glasgow and the 2014 Commonwealth Games and were swiftly brought back to the reality that this season is far from over. As I mentioned at the beginning of this summer, we have a triple crown of big events on the schedule... University World Championships, Commonwealth Games, and finally, the big show, the World Championships.
I have made it successfully past the first two events, taking Gold in both and staying on this determined path to victory. But the hard work was far from over and we were reminded of that these past two weeks as a variety of wrestlers from across Canada culminated in a mini-prep centred here in Calgary. We were on the mats and endured a training phase our coaches term as 'loading' which involves lots of high intensity, long duration match-paced wrestling. After going through this process for a number of years preparing for junior world championships, as a training partner at the Olympic Games, and now, prepping for my second senior world championships, I believe the main purpose of this 'phase' is to physically and mentally prepare the body in such a way that nothing that could possibly happen, no opponent that one could possibly face at the 'big show' is worse than the two weeks of hell we just got through.
A highlight of the camp was one Tuesday night when Paul decided to do a little sharkbait drill. This is a drill we sometimes do in wrestling where one person "stays in" and the other wrestlers take turns going in fresh at the person. On Tuesday we did three sets of eight minutes of shark bait with a new fresh person coming in every two minutes. It is meant to push the person in the middle beyond the typical discomfort of a normal wrestling situation and drive them towards something greater. Sometimes towards the end, my goal is to simply stay alive.
Wrestling is a sport of true intimacy where your body is entwined in this intricate dance with another, challenging that other person to their physical, emotional, mental extremes. Yet, it is also a sport of isolation. When you step out onto the mat you are alone. Standing opposite you is another singular opponent whose intentions are to impose their physical dominance over you. It is in those dark corners of the mind you must enter during the last minutes of a sharkbait drill that can define what happens under the spotlight in a number of weeks in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. I get it and I revel in those experiences. You got to be a little crazy to survive in this sport.
I am writing this blog to you on a nice Saturday morning here in Calgary. Less than ten days before I depart for Uzbekistan and another nine after that until I compete. I am a roller coaster of emotions and I will be until I step on the mat. But that is when everything will calm itself because I know I have done the work and I am excited about the opportunity to put it all on the line.
This will be a little Commonwealth Games wrap up blog and Wow... I can't believe it is the closing ceremonies already. The Games experience in Glasgow has certainly flown by especially for a easily excited, social buffalo like myself I easily get caught up in the craziness that is a games environment.
Since competing I have fought hard against FOMO, an acronym for a common games affliction "fear of missing out"! There's just so many things happening it is easy to feel like you're constantly missing out on the action. I found myself constantly running from event to event, dining hall to gym to bed to party (only occasionally) but I have stayed clear of truly experiencing FOMO because of my team around me which make pretty much every moment badass.
Since winning Gold I have truly enjoyed myself in Glasgow and been swept up by the enthusiasm and genuine excitement of the citizens here! I cannot tell you how many Scots have stopped to chat and talk about Canada. I now am certain about 99% of the population of Glasgow has family in Canada... Somewhere. I wish I could chat them all more but often I find myself nodding and smiling because I really can't understand the accent!!! Now Haud Yer Wheest I have been getting better I promise.
There have been numerous highlights of the Games and so I will summarize just a few.. We had a great cheering section on all three days of competition in the form of some good ol 'murican wrasslers from Michigan!! I'm still not quite sure why they were here but there were AWESOME!!! Everyday they made us feel like rockstars. They stole our hearts and my team canada shirt on the last night at the bar... An even trade I believe for the epic support they have given!
Wrestling did really well but all of Team Canada on the track, the field, the mats, and the gym achieve an outstanding level of success and it has been cool rubbing shoulders and making friends with athletes who I have followed for a long time now!
Tonight the Games come to an end but I feel like it is just the beginning for me. In less than 6 weeks we will head over to Tashkent, Uzbekistan to compete with the big dogs at the Senior World Championships. All I can say is Woof. We are ready!!!
One last thing, this trip wouldn't have been what it is without my teammates, the Canadian mission staff, our amazing coaches especially Leigh Vierling and Paul Ragusa, our fearless team leader Alex Davidson, and of course without a doubt the ASTOUNDING support from back home.
This has been my biggest success so far at a major event and I appreciate everything you all have done to support me in this long journey!
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.