Our time to far in Uzbekistan has been characterized by endless surpassing of expectations. I thought the hotel would be bad, the food inedible, the climate unhospitable, the culture; a shock. Needless to say, it has been an absolute dream so far.
Our days have become a blur of workouts, wrestling, great food, warm sun, refreshing poolside reading, and awesome people. As the tournament nears, for me, there have certainly been hiccups along the way but in the sport of wrestling, you get used to dealing with adversity pretty easily because every trip and every training session, there is going to be something that doesn't go your way but it is in the way that you deal with these challenges that dictate the outcome.
We decided as a team to check out the venue yesterday during the first day of men's competition. Traditionally, Team Canada is a very united front and we operate as a team through and through. We wanted to support the men in their competition and we also wanted to get a feel for the environment we would be wrestling in.
Uzbekistan, as a former USSR country, still maintains a lot of that European feel and there are some beautiful gardens and water fountains in the area we are staying in. One thing the people of Uzbekistan also embrace is the wrestling culture and the venue is packed!!! All in all, the energy is crazy and this definitely feels like the big show. I am so eager to get on the mats and push, push, push during every practice but my coaches keep telling me to trust in the taper and relax and wait for my day of competition. September 11th.
We arrived at the venue yesterday to a sea of sweaty men. We walked into the warm up area which was a small room with two wrestling mats and hundreds of wrestlers which (God I love this sport) come in all shapes, sizes, smells, and colors!! It is truly an experience only a wrestler could understand and also it is a place where we all felt right at home. Initially, there was some worry that we wouldn't be able to get on the mats and get in our light practice but the competition started the mats and cleared a little bit as the competitors shifted off to their various piles of backpacks scattered around the room. (Team USA commandeered a sizable corner section in a very 'Murican fashion and we tucked in right beside them).
We started training around 10am just as a couple other women's teams got on the mats too and we trained right beside the Russian girls and tried not to stare each other down too much...
It has been exciting watching the competition and being right in the action. It brings a realness to the event and it is great to be in there and feel everything a couple days before it's time for me to walk out there alone. Tomorrow is the first day of the women's competition and I am the day after. I have a good feeling we will be celebrating tomorrow after Day One.
To follow the results and livestream check out the new fancy updated United World Wrestling website... www.unitedworldwrestling.org
You can follow me on twitter and also @wrestlingcanada @49NorthWrestling and @jasonbryant (he's an American but he's here and his tweets keep me from boredom in my hotel!)
That's all for now folks, I will be writing a blog after this big hoopla is all over. Hopefully with some good news! Hehe
The packing has began and its officially less than 24 hours until I make the trek to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Now this isn't my first rodeo and typically my packing strategy involves a certain measure of the proverb... if you leave it till the last minute... it only takes a minute. However, Uzbekistan is a whole other beast and this is world championships! I have been scheming for a couple weeks now and making some short shopping trips to pick up what is needed.
Now the food scene there seems to be pretty good according to the reports from some of our team members who arrived early. Typical 'European" breakfast with hardboiled eggs, bread, and fresh vegetables. For anyone who knows me, a favourite travel companion is a childhood friend, Nutella. Now actually as a kid my parents didn't let me have too much Nutella but as an adult I do what I want! I will also be bringing a number of other "fav" items that I'm going to assume aren't sold in Uzbekistan such as some trail mix, chocolate coconut water, small almond milk juice boxes, San Pellegrino Grapefruit Sparking Water, Tea, and tuna. Everything that a high maintenance elite athlete could wish for. I have to be honest and am also bringing some candy to satisfy my sweet tooth! Luckily as far as sports nutrition goes, my needs are taken care of by my new sponsor GenEthix Nutrition. They make some of the best products in the business for athletes and are NSF certified. I will be taking some very handy pre and post exercise as well as some very tasty bars.
Of course as a heavyweight I discuss the food first... but truthfully, as long as I have my passport, singlet, and wrestling boots I know the rest is extra. I'm taking two sets of singlets (just in case I have any wardrobe malfunctions... we all saw that photo of Chris Spring's powerbelly at the Games)and I will be packing my boots and mouth guard tomorrow after our morning technique session before the flight. I'm packing 7 pairs of spandex, 7 t-shirts, 7 sports bras, and copious amounts of socks and undies! It'll be very hot in Tashkent and even in normal temperatures I sweat a lot.
Although Tashkent is around 95% Muslim, apparently the city centre where we are staying is fairly liberal and we should be okay wearing our typically Western-apparel. For me, that means tank tops and short shorts with the occasional summer dress thrown in for good measure.
In the toiletries department, the one thing I can't leave home without is my nasal rinse. Weird I know... It's a real necessity when travelling especially as long a journey as it will be. As far as hair and makeup go I'm pretty low maintenance and wrestling doesn't really allow us to glam it up!
For all those wondering, we are going Calgary - Toronto - Istanbul - Tashkent which is a pretty reasonable itinerary minus the 6 hour layover in Istanbul.
Alas, clearly by packing standards... I think I am ready!
I compete on September 11th at the 75kg class and stay tuned to my blog and twitter for more updates once I arrive.
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.