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
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.