Canada Wins Four More Medals in Wrestling
Courtesy of Commonwealth Games Canada
On day three of wrestling in Glasgow at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Canada wins another four medals. Since the wrestling competition started on July 29th Canada has won seven gold, two silver and three bronze with a total of 12 medals won at the 2014 Games. 12 medals is the highest amount of medals won at a single Commonwealth Games by Canada in freestyle wrestling ever.
Starting the day in the 65kg category, Jevon Balfour of Brampton Ontario, wrestled Sampson Clarkson of Nigeria in the preliminaries. The Nigerian reached four points first. Balfour, from Brampton Ontario, did not back down to the aggressive Nigerian and with a push out of the ring, Balfour was ahead 6-5. Balfour won the preliminary bout 9-5. Balfour, just beginning his senior level experience is heading to Junior Worlds right after the Commonwealth Games. In the quarters, Balfour beat Muhammad Salman from Pakistan (14-6). Balfour met T Van Rensburg from South Africa, the only wrestler standing in his way to wrestle in the gold medal final. In a fight to the finish, Balfour, to the audience chants of Canada, Canada, came from behind to win. In the gold-medal final, Balfour wrestled Yogeshwar Dutt of India.
Tamerlan Tagziev (86kg) met Ali Abdo of Australia in his opening bout. The Canadian, from Toronto, put the first point on the board and at the horn was ahead 8-0. With three minutes left to go, the bout started again but was quickly over when Tagziev reached 10 points. The final score was 10-0. Tagziev wrestled Muhamed Innam from Pakistan in the quarter-finals. Tagziev looked calculating with a good mix of offence and defensive strategy and at the half, he was up by three points. The match ended with Tagziev winning 10-0. In the semi-finals, fighting for a chance to wrestle for Gold, Tagziev wrestled Pawan Kumar of India. Tagziev confidently won.
For the women, Danielle Lappage (63kg) from Olds Alberta, started things off with a bout against Blessing Oborududu of Nigeria. Lappage was aggressive and calculating. She fought hard and almost pinned her opponent with seconds to go, but won the match regardless. Lappage wrestled Chloe Spiteri in her semi-final bout. Up to nine points in two minutes, Lappage looked strong and won the bout with 11 points now looking for gold.
Brittanee Laverdure in the 55kg weight-class met Joseph Essombe Tiako of Cameroon in her opening bout. Coached by Paul Ragusa, 1996 Olympic wrestler, Pan Am Games Medalist and Canada Wrestling Hall of Fame member, Laverdure had earned 10 points by the end of the match with the Cameroon wrestler having none. Laverdure, from Watson Lake Yukon, needed to beet Nigeria’s Ifeoma Nwoye to make it to the gold-medal final. Nwoye was wiry, but Laverdure fought hard and almost pinned the wrestler a couple of times. Tied at four at half, Brittanee Laverdure knew what she had to do and won. Laverdure post match was good to summarize the thoughts of the four Canadian wrestlers.
“Canada is pretty dominant in the world of wrestling, so we have aspirations to be in every final in every meet so it is exciting,” said Laverdure after her win against Nigeria’s Nwoye. “Gold is always your ultimate goal.”
In the finals, three out of four of the Canadians were wrestling Indian wrestlers. Tagziev was wrestling a Nigerian athlete.
Brittanee Laverdure in the 55kg weight-class was first to wrestle for gold against Babita Kumari from India. The match was aggressive from the start with the Indian athlete earning the first point, then another two driving Laverdure from the matt. Laverdure kept the points to five as the horn blew. In the end, Laverdure hurt her hand but continued to rally. Unfortunately she lost the bout 9-2 but won the silver medal.
In Jevon Balfour’s 65kg final he met Yogeshwar Dutt of India. When any of the Indian wrestlers would enter the mat, Indian voices would rise out of nowhere. Dutt was a strong and aggressive wrestler and the most accomplished wrestler Balfour had ever wrestled. Dutt won the match in the first round. Balfour had a lot of respect for the wrestler.
“I definitely had the gas left. I don’t know, he’s a good wrestler, right? I Can’t take anything away from him,” said the Silver medalist. “I think Yogeshwar Dutt is the highest ranked wrestler I’ve ever wrestled against. If I didn’t medal I would be pretty upset at myself. That’s just my thing. I don’t like going to a competition, coming all this way and not even getting on that podium. That’s just me.”
Danielle Lappage (63kg) wrestled Indian wrestler Geetika Jakhar in the final. At the end of the first round, Lappage scored the first point. With 30 seconds to go, Lappage had 5 points and ended up winning 7-0. In the mixed zone, Lappage and Jakhar hugged and acknowledged the match won by the Canadian.
In the gold medal match for Tamerlan Tagziev wrestled Andrew Dick of Nigeria in the 86kg final. With no Indian wrestler, ‘Go Canada’ could be heard as it was yelled around the venue. One minute in and the score was tied at two points each. At the half-way buzzer, Tagziev led 6-4, at the end of the match, he had won gold!
“I wanted to make my family and Canada proud,” said the Gold medalist. “I am proud to wear the maple leaf.”
Wrestling ends with 12 medals for the 2014 Canadian wrestling team.