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Canada Keeps Legacy Alive with Gold at Rio Olympics

August 21, 2016

(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – With Erica Wiebe’s gold medal win at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the legacy of Wrestling Canada Lutte winning at least one medal at the Olympics since 1992 lives on.

A proud wrestling legacy exists based on the accomplishments of Canadian wrestlers which include: 1992: Jeffrey Thue (130KG)-silver, 1996: Guivi Sissaouri (57KG)-silver, 2000: Daniel Igali (69KG)- gold, 2004: Tonya Verbeek (55KG)- silver, 2008: Carol Huyhn (48KG)– gold, Tonya Verbeek (55KG)– bronze, 2012: Tonya Verbeek (55KG)– silver, Carol Huyhn (48KG)– bronze. Erica Wiebe carried on that tradition in Rio with a gold medal performance that she described as a team effort.

“The process to get to the Olympics was so hard but I knew that I had done every single thing I could to wrestle my best on my competition day,” said Wiebe. “My coaches, the #6Pack, the small and tight knit wrestling community supported me and we won this gold medal for Canada and am so honoured to be part of this wrestling legacy.”

Canada qualified eight wrestlers to represent Wrestling Canada Lutte at the 2016 Olympics, the #6Pack as they are known on social channels, Jasmine Mian (48KG), Jillian Gallays (53KG), Michelle Fazzari (58KG), Danielle Lappage (63KG), Dorothy Yeats (69KG) and Erica Wiebe (75KG) as well as men’s freestyle Olympians Haislan Garcia (65KG) and Korey Jarvis (125KG). In the end, some challenging draws and two injuries created challenges for the Olympians, but the hard work, dedication and countless hours of training that made them an Olympian was to be celebrated.

Wrestling Canada Lutte Women’s Head Coach Leigh Vierling provided his thoughts on the Canadian wrestling performances in Rio.

“It is really hard to sum up an Olympic Games. Such highs and lows. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m proud of Wrestling Canada Lutte’s Team at the Rio Games,” said Vierling. “Canada can compete here and win! Erica Wiebe has shown that once again. To the athletes looking to Tokyo in 2020, learn from the lessons here. We need to challenge the status quo and find ways to become even better as program. I look forward to an amazing four years heading into Tokyo 2020.”

The final wrestler competing today in Rio was three-time Olympian Haislan Garcia. In addition to the Rio Olympics, Cuban born Garcia competed at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

In the qualification round, Garcia wrestled Russian wrestler Ramonov but lost 7-1. At the end of the match, Garcia sustained an injury on the mat when his shoulder dislocated. The Russian wrestler, Ramonov progressed through his pool and won his semi-final match, allowing Garcia to compete in the battle for 65KG bronze through the repechage. With the injury, it would be a game-time decision if he and his coaches thought he could wrestle.

Garcia did wrestle in the repechage, and in the first round managed to defeat Valdes Tobier of Cuba by scoring the last two points and tying it up 3-3. In his next match, Garcia wrestled Ganzorig of Mongolia, but it wasn’t to be. The Mongolian wrestler won the bout 3-0. At the end of the match, CBC asked Garcia what were his thoughts about the 2020 Olympics.

“I’m not sure if I will wrestle in 2020,” said the Burnaby BC wrestler. “You never know how your body will take it in this sport.”

While often overshadowed by the recent success of the women’s program, Rio Head Coach Vierling celebrated the efforts of the two Canadian male 2016 Olympians.

“Korey Jarvis and Haislan Garcia competed very well here. Like the women their losses were only to some of the very best athletes on the planet,” he said. “They walked into every match with the intention of making great things happen.”