Canadian wrestlers win six medals at Francophone Games
Team Canada brings home four, while Team New Brunswick add a pair
KINSHASA, CONGO, DR—Canadian wrestlers had a successful competition at the 2023 Francophone Games in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, July 30-31. There were two teams sent from Canada, a Team Canada and a Team Canada – New Brunswick. In total, 11 wrestlers competed for the two squads.
It didn’t take long for Canada to top the podium as on day one of the competition, Swift Current, Saskatchewan’s Aleah Nickel, who was also the flag bearer for Canada during the opening ceremonies, won gold in the women’s 62kg weight class. The medal was the first won by a Canadian at the 2023 Games. Nickel, who trains at Edmonton Wrestling Club, went 2-0 in her weight class round robin, which earned her a place in the semifinal. In the semifinal, she won her match by fall setting up a gold-medal match with Diwa Mbemba from Congo, DR. Nickel won the match by superiority 10-0 to claim the medal.
“The gold medal gave me a feeling of gratitude for everyone who has supported me to this point. I wrestled for the gold medal myself but I won it for my family, friends, teammates, coaches and everyone involved around me,” said Nickel.
Nickel’s gold wasn’t the only one for the Canadian wrestlers. On day two it was Sherwood Park, Alberta’s Katie Mulkay who would grace the top of the podium in the women’s 68kg weight class. Mulkay, who also trains at Edmonton Wrestling Club, went 2-0 in her round robin with a pair of wins by superiority before winning her semifinal by fall. She would win her gold-medal match 4-0 over Berthe Ngolle of Cameroon.
Ajax, Ontario’s Nyla Burgess also found herself in a gold-medal match at 72kg. The Team Impact member picked up victories by fall in the quarterfinal and semifinal but was beaten in the final by Maria Nitu of Romania and had to settle for silver.
The New Brunswick contingent added a pair of bronze medals on the women’s side. Fredericton’s Vivian Kutnowski and Elena Sehic each took home a medal. For Kutnowski it was in the women’s 65kg, while Sehic’s came in the 72kg. Team New Brunswick’s Tania Blanchard, from Bathurst, New Brunswick, finished fourth at 50kg, while Team Canada’s Vianne Rouleau, from Edmonton, was 10th at 76kg to round out the results.
The men’s side was highlighted by a bronze medal by Team Canada’s Aidan Stevenson at 97kg. Stevenson, from Edmonton and the Edmonton Wrestling Club, went 2-0 in his round robin but got a tough draw in the semifinal against France’s Askerkhan Khounkaev, and lost on points. Stevenson rebounded well in his bronze-medal match defeating Pensy Nianga of the Republic of Congo.
As for the New Brunswick team, their top finish went to Bathurst, New Brunswick’s Koen Poirier who was fifth at 74kg. Fredericton’s Johnathan Sherrard was eighth at 65kg and Elmsdale, Nova Scotia’s Raymond Hazell was eighth at 70kg.
For full tournament results visit the tournament site at: https://uww.org/event/jeux-de-la-francophonie?section=results.
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