Canadians gain valuable experience at Junior World Championships
UFA, RUSSIA – Wrestling Canada Lutte’s (WCL) team represented the country well as they competed in one of the very few tournaments since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Three athletes, along with coaches and support staff, were in Ufa, Russia, Aug. 16-22 for the Junior World Championships. Team Canada consisted of Renfrew, Ontario’s Jolie Brisco; Toronto, Ontario’s Lachlan McNeil; and Flin Flon, Manitoba’s Carson Lee. Accompanying the competitors was the coaching staff led by WCL’s NextGen coach Kimin Kim, along with Martine Dugrenier, Tony Ramos and Shane Bradley.
Brisco competed in the women’s 59 kg weight class. The 19-year-old, who trains out of the Montreal Wrestling Club, previously competed at the Junior World Championships in 2019. She drew Madina Aman of Kazakhstan in the qualification round. Brisco led 3-1 at half, thanks to a two-point score right before the break. However, a four-point takedown in the second half put Aman in front. Brisco would score a two-point takedown with 25 seconds remaining, but it only evened the match at five. She was eliminated on score criteria.
“I worked hard after the (Junior) Pan-Ams to improve on my mistakes,” said Brisco. “I came up short in this tournament but I’m ready to continue on this path and to keep bettering myself for future international tournaments.”
McNeil had the best run of any Canadian at the event, coming one match shy of a bronze medal match, in the men’s freestyle 65 kg weight class. The 20-year-old got off to an exiting start in his qualification round match against Tugsjargal Erdenebat of Mongolia. He fell behind but scored a four-point takedown as time ran out to earn an 11-8 win.
That seemed to spark the North Carolina Tar Heel as in his next match he earned a quick 15-4 technical superiority win over Latvia’s Viljams Lutkevics.
The win put McNeil in a quarterfinal matchup with Russia’s Shamil Mamedov. Mamedov scored takedowns and ground points in the second half, ultimately handing McNeil the 12-2 loss. Mamedov went on to capture the gold in the weight class, meaning McNeil had a shot at a bronze through the repechage.
He squared off with Bekzat Yermekbay of Kazakhstan with a place in the bronze medal match on the line. While McNeil was able to score points off counters, and made a late charge, he fell short losing 12-7.
“It was an amazing opportunity, not the result I wanted but I still left it all on the mat,” said McNeil. “I am thankful to the WCL coaching staff and will take time to reassess, improve and look to the future.”
Lee, 20, drew Mongolia’s Munkhdavaa Bayarmunkh in the qualification round of the 79 kg weight class. An early four-point takedown by Bayarmunkh put Lee behind early. The University of Saskatchewan Huskie looked to turn things around but couldn’t get his offense going and fell 10-0.
“It felt great to be back on the mats again after such a long time off and no tournaments,” said Lee. “It wasn’t the outcome I hoped for but I’m glad I had the chance to represent Canada.”
“I am very proud of Jolie, Lachlan and Carson for their performance in this tournament,” added Kim. “They competed well. I am looking forward to monitoring these athletes as they continue to develop. Thanks to all of their personal coaches who were able to accommodate a safe training environment under the very tough circumstances due to COVID restrictions.”
The next international event for WCL competitors will be the World Championships, Oct. 2-10, 2021 in Oslo, Norway.