Di Stasio, Randhawa golden on day two of wrestling as all Canadian wrestlers earn medals
BIRMINGHAM, UK— It was quite the ending to the wrestling competition, Aug. 6, at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games as Canadians capped off an impressive performance with all twelve members of the team winning a medal. The standard had been set the day before when all six competitors medaled but day two saw a repeat performance, including a pair of gold medals from Justina Di Stasio and Nishan Randhawa.
Justina Di Stasio – 76kg
Burnaby, B.C.’s Justina Di Stasio opened her competition against Naomi De Bruine. Di Stasio had little trouble defeating the Australian by superiority 10-0.
In the semifinal, Di Stasio drew a tough match with Pooja Pooja of India. While it was a close match, Di Stasio was able to pull out a 6-0 victory.
That advanced her to the gold medal match against Hannah Rueben of Nigeria. This was a very even match with Nigeria up 1-0 at the break. In the second, Di Stasio earned a four-point takedown to go up 4-1. That was all she needed as she hung on to win the gold medal 4-2.
“We had a gameplan (for the gold medal match), I am trying to work on my two-on-ones and adjusting on the fly. Sometimes I abandon my gameplan but in that match when I heard my coach say something, I listened and was able to do it. I needed to know I could do that and now I do,” explained Di Stasio.
She went on to talk about the score that won her the match. “She was very strong, when I pulled her down, I could feel she was strong enough to pull back up, so I let her do it so I could sneak in. I had to be patient because if I missed, I knew she would know I was coming. I got her where I wanted three or four times, then I hit it.”
Nishan Randhawa, from Abbotsford, B.C., drew a tough opponent in the quarterfinal in Deepak Deepak of India. It was a back-and-forth match but Randhawa was able to pull out a late victory, with a force out in the final second. After a failed challenge by India, Randhawa’s win was confirmed 8-6.
Randhawa used that momentum in his semifinal match against Pakistan’s Tayab Raza. Randhawa never let Raza into this one, winning on points 7-0.
With the win, Randhawa went for gold against Nicolaas De Lange of South Africa. De Lange opened the scoring, but Randhawa cut to 2-1 and then scored a takedown right at the buzzer to lead 3-2 at the break. He added to his lead in the second making it 5-3, then 7-3. from there he applied a gutwrench to make it 9-3 and held on to win gold!
“This feels amazing! It has been a long road, I had a couple injuries along the way but finished off strong and I hope to keep this momentum into the World Championships in Serbia where I will give it my all and try to win another medal for my country,” said Randhawa after the win. He went on to elaborate about the grind to the gold medal. “I picked up some injuries in the first match, I fought through the semifinal and felt they caused me to be a bit more hesitant in the final match. As it went on, I feel like I picked up the pace and it all turned out pretty good.”
Samantha Stewart – 53kg
Samantha Stewart competed in a four-woman round robin. The Fredericton resident drew a tall task in the opening round against Vinesh Vinesh of India. Vinesh would earn the win over Stewart by fall.
Stewart rebounded in her second round against Chamodya Maduravalage Don of Sri Lanka. Stewart won the contest by superiority 12-2.
That meant her third round robin match against Mercy Adekuoroye of Nigeria would determine the silver medalist. Stewart trailed 4-1 at the break but clawed back in during the second. She scored a takedown and came close to a pin. Then, after the Nigerian received a penalty, Stewart scored a takedown to win it with just three seconds remaining. That secured her the silver medal, in a weight class that only awarded gold and silver because of the number of participants.
“This is what we train for, we train as hard as we do to have those tough, close matches,” said Stewart in regard to the exciting finish. “We all want to come out on top and show that we have the grit and determination that even when you are down in the last 30 seconds, you can still make it happen and come away with the win.”
Madi Parks – 50kg
Madi Parks, from London, Ontario, began her six-woman round robin against Miesinnei Genesis of Nigeria with a loss on points 9-0.
She rebounded in her second round as she defeated Shriyanthika Sinhala Pedige of Sri Lanka by superiority 12-0.
That advanced her to the semifinal against Pooja Gehlot of India. Parks fell behind 6-0 but battled back to make it 6-5 with seven second to go. She then scored a four-point takedown in the dying seconds to win the match 9-6 and advance to the gold medal match.
The gold medal match was a rematch with Genesis. After the first period it was all tied at one with two push outs, but Nigeria had the advantage. In the second, a quick takedown by Genesis was turned into a pin and Parks settled for silver.
Darthe Capellan – 57kg
Darthe Capellan, from Coquitlam, B.C., started his competition with a quarterfinal win over Gary Giordmaina of Malta by superiority 12-2.
Capellan would lose a tough one in the semifinal 8-4 to Ebikewenimo Welson of Nigeria, after giving up a late five-point score.
That meant he would compete for bronze against Jakobo Tau of South Africa. Capellan opened up an early six-point advantage. Then, he hit a four-point takedown to make it 10-0 but two points were awarded to Tau for a reversal, making it 10-2. Capellan would score another takedown to win the bronze 12-2.
“I worked hard for this; I didn’t want to come home without any hardware. I am just happy I am coming home with something,” said Capellan. “I think, in the match before the final, I wasn’t moving my feet and hands enough. That was the big difference in the bronze medal match.”
Jasmit Phulka – 74kg
Abbotsford, B.C.’s Jasmit Phulka opened his competition with a qualification round win over Nicolae Cojocaru of Scotland 7-5.
Up next was a quarterfinal match against Muhammad Tahir of Pakistan. This one went down to the wire but in the end, Tahir would edge out Phulka 5-1.
After Tahir advanced to the final, Phulka got a second chance with a repechage match against John Vake of Tonga. He would make good on the chance winning by superiority 11-0.
That meant a bronze medal match against Cole Hawkins of New Zealand. Phulka opened the scoring and then slowly built his lead. With 15 second left in the first round, he finished it and won the bronze by superiority 11-1.
“I thought my performance was great today, but I was just grateful for the opportunity and was taking it in. Two weeks ago, I met with (former Olympic wrestler) Matt Gentry who told me ‘There is no need to have pressure, you can’t do this your whole life, so enjoy it and have fun.’ Since I have taken that philosophy I have started to look towards the 2026 Commonwealth Games. I am 28 years old, but I feel I have a lot left in me because I love what I do and want these moments to last forever.”
With that Canada caps off an incredible Commonwealth Games winning 12 out of a potential 12 medals (three gold, five silver, four bronze). For complete event information visit the event site.