Canadian wrestlers win five medals at Pan American Games
SANTIAGO, CHILE — Canadian wrestlers are returning home from the 2023 Pan American Games, in Santiago, Chile, with a strong medal haul. Wrestling Canada Lutte (WCL) sent a team of six wrestlers, three in women’s wrestling and three in men’s freestyle, and the athletes did not disappoint. At the end of the three-day wrestling competition, November 1-3, the Canadians won five medals. The event was highlighted by a silver medal performance from Summerside, Prince Edward Island’s Hannah Taylor in the women’s 57kg weight class.
Taylor, who trains at the Brock Wrestling Club, began the tournament with a victory over Luisa Valverde of Ecuador by fall in the quarterfinals. That set up a match up with Bethabeth Sarco of Venezuela in the semifinals, a wrestler that defeated Taylor earlier this year at the Pan American Championships. Taylor was determined to avenge that loss and did so by fall to advance to the gold medal match. In the gold medal match, Taylor faced Giullia Rodrigues of Brazil. The match came right down to the wire, but the Brazilian came out ahead, 6-6 on criteria, plus a late lost challenge to win 7-6.
“There is obviously a lot to work on but getting silver was still great. I am happy that I put on a performance that I can be proud of, I felt like I left everything out there,” said Taylor. “I did end up losing 6-6, so it shows that I am right up there with the gold medalist. It is not the colour I wanted but I am still happy to bring home a medal for team Canada and Prince Edward Island. It is incredible (the support received from P.E.I.), I have been single eliminated at competitions and I still have people commenting, posting. sharing their wishes and congratulations with me. To bring home a medal for them is super exciting.”
Taylor’s teammate at Brock, and Orillia, Ontario native Olivia Di Bacco also picked up a medal at the competition. Di Bacco earned a bronze, at 68kg, after defeating Ambar Garncia of Mexico 8-6. “Bronze was not the medal I came into the competition looking for and not the colour that I am capable of but sometimes a win can be a win that is ugly and that is ok. I will just continue to keep working on a lot of mental refocusing as we move through this Olympic qualification year.”
The final member on the women’s side, McKellar, Ontario’s Shauna Kuebeck just missed out on a medal, finishing fifth. Kuebeck, also from Brock Wrestling Club, began with a tough draw versus Milaimy Marin of Cuba in her 76kg quarterfinals match. Kuebeck lost 10-0, but thanks to Marin advancing to the final, earned a repechage match to try and get into a bronze match. In her repechage, Kuebeck won by fall over Linda Machuca of Argentina. That set up a bronze match against Maria Acosta of Venezuela. However, Acosta would come out on top in this one, picking up the victory by fall.
On the men’s side, the three Canadians each picked up a bronze. The first went to Abbotsford, British Columbia’s Nishan Randhawa at 97kg. Randhawa, from Burnaby Mountain Wrestling Club, defeated Adrian Baez of Argentina in the round of 16, advancing to the quarterfinals against a familiar foe in American Kyle Snyder. Snyder got the better of Randhawa, but also advanced to the final so Randhawa found himself in a bronze match against Maxwell Lacey of Costa Rica. Despite a late charge by Lacey, Randhawa hung on for the win 7-6. “It means a lot to win bronze. At the end of the day, we fight for our resume, our legacy and a Games medal is big. Although I am not happy with my performance, I always tell my students and teammates that once a tournament is over you have to sit back and appreciate what you did in the tournament, so I am happy.”
Komoka, Ontario’s Adam Thomson also came away with bronze in a similar fashion. Thomson, from London-Western Wrestling Club, lost his 74kg quarterfinal against Franklin Maren of Cuba, but wound up in a bronze match when Maren advanced to the final. Thomson took full advantage of the opportunity, defeating Luis Barrios 7-6 to earn the medal. “This my first medal at a major Games, so that is fantastic for me. It has been a great opportunity for me to get my hands on some guys I will have to wrestle to qualify for the Olympics, and while there are always things to work on, I am happy with what I did today.”
The final medal on the men’s side went to Flin Flon, Manitoba’s Hunter Lee. Lee, from Saskatoon Wrestling Club, lost to Mark Hall (USA) in the 86kg quarterfinal. However, after Hall advanced to the final, Lee drew Ethan Ramos of Puerto Rico in a bronze match. Lee would win the match by superiority 14-4 to claim the medal. “This is exciting! I have never been to any type of Games before, so I am happy to get a bronze in my first, but now it is onto the next. I wanted that gold, I am happy with bronze but not satisfied.”
For complete tournament information, including brackets and results, visit: https://results-santiago2023.org/#/schedule/daily/2023-11-03
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