A year ago I woke up from my bed at the Olympic Village, an hour before the alarm went off and I got up to puke in the toilet.
It was my day of competition at the Olympic Games and these are my memories.
We had already received our draws and I was set to compete in my first match against Germany a little later in the first session. I walked through Olympic Park alone and sat on the bus next to Graham Barton, our Our the Podium liason because I knew he would give me silence on the 15 min ride over to the venue. I had my headphones in and I listened to the same song. Over and Over again. "Hold on and believe, that we already won, we still hold on" the lyrics went. I got off the bus and walked into the venue and my spirit sang, I felt 10ft tall, I knew I would be invincible that day.
I couldn't stop bursting into laughter as I ran around the mats to warm up. This was it. The one day I would compete at the Olympics Games and in the months leading in, I had been very thoughtful of how I wanted to feel on that day. How quick and agile my feet would be. How powerful my legs would move. How happy I would be regardless of the outcome.
The first session went so quickly. I was so focused on each moment; never thinking of a second in the past or a possibility of the future. The buzzer rang on my Olympic semi-final and I remember looking over to the clock to see what the score of the match was. Beside my name was a number three, beside hers zero. My eyes shifted upwards and it confirmed my slow realisation that I had made it to the Olympic final.
Then for the first time that day I had a chance to relax. We went back to the Olympic Park and had about 3 hours of downtime before my final. I would eat, shower, lay in bed. I remember going on twitter to pass the time. I didn't worry about the outcome although my training partner Breanne told me this morning that she remembers me commenting very matter of factly that one benefit of winning would be that I would get to wave the Canadian flag around the mat. It was an iconic image seered into my brain from watching many Olympic Games and World Championships. But I had never imagined myself doing it ever before.
We made it back to the venue. It was time. I had warmed up again. I was ready.
In truth, I had already won. Not the match specifically. But the day. The moment. I had never felt so confident, so powerful, so incontrol and yet unworried about the future and so comfortable.
I remember so vividly the taste of my lips as I walked out. I could barely feel my legs. I couldn't hear anything outside of the match plan on repeat in my head. But as I walked out to my Olympic final I remember feeling my tongue against my lips and tasting the saltiness. It grounded me in a way. It reminded me of where I was in that moment.
Then the whistle blew and it began. I had only one focus; moving my hands and my feet and getting into her space. Disrupting her, making her uncomfortable, forcing her to wrestle my match; my pace.
And it was over.
I became an Olympic Champion.
What ensued after that moment was a whirlwind.
I feel very grateful that I got a second to talk to Paul after our victory lap and let him know that August 18th, 2016 was the easiest day of my Summer of 2016.
I say 'easy' because I spent every day prior pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone, never once pulling away or pulling back; committed to saying I gave it everything I had.
I love hearing stories of what people remember from that day. Stories of losing their voices shouting at the TV, laughing when I picked up Paul on my shoulders, crying along with me as I sang the anthem.
Through the generous support and love of my family and friends, the guidance of my coaching staff, the support of my strength coach, chiro, physios, the entire CSI-Calgary team, the daily motivational texts of my boyfriend, my training partners at the U of C, Jasmine, Danielle, Dori, Jill and Michelle; my Olympic teammates and beacons of strength and purpose.
The Main Dish, Nike Wrestling,CANFund & KPMG through John Gordon stepped in and supported me financially before anyone else really knew my name.
All I can say is that a year has gone by and I'm still trying to wrap my mind around what just happened.
But one thing is for sure, I am grateful for everyone who has been with me along this 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.