Garcia Books Ticket to Rio at ‘Last Chance’ Qualifier
(Istanbul, Turkey) – Haislan Garcia bounced back from the grueling qualification process to earn a Rio 2016 berth for Canada in the men’s freestyle 65 kg weight class at the final Olympic Games qualifying tournament in Istanbul.
This was the final qualification event for all athletes, dubbed #LastChance2Rio in social media circles, with the top 2 in every weight class earning quota spots for their respective countries.
Garcia, a Beijing and London Olympian, racked up 3 wins against Tajikistan, Slovakia, and Slovenia before meeting up with Bucur of Romania in the semi-finals. Garcia faced Bucur twice through qualification process, first at the 2015 Senior World Championships in Las Vegas, where he lost 2-3 and two weeks ago at the qualification event in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia where he lost 2-6. Atoning for those losses, Garcia wrestled tactically, losing 2 single points to passivity, before storming back with a 2-point leg takedown to seal the deal with a 2-2 win and a berth to the Rio Games. Garcia forfeited the gold medal match against Novachkov of Bulgaria.
Canada failed to qualify the remaining 4 men’s freestyle spots with some tough losses. John Pineda (57 kg) was eliminated early with a loss to Ukraine in the first round. Cleo Ncube (74 kg) won his first match against Hungary, but then fell to Korea in the round of 8. Tamerlan Tagziev (86 kg) won two straight against Greece and Brazil, but then succumbed to Peru in a close match in the quarter-finals. Arjun Gill (97 kg) also lost in the quarter-finals to Belarus after winning his first two matches against Iraq and Switzerland.
Two days earlier, Steven Takahashi, Canada’s sole representative in the Greco-roman division at 59 kg also failed to qualify after being defeated in the first round by Ukraine.
Garcia becomes the second Canadian entry for the men’s freestyle team, joining Korey Jarvis (125 kg) who qualified in March at the Pan Am Olympic qualification event in Frisco, Texas. Canada has qualified a full women’s team, including Jasmine Mian (48 kg), Jillian Gallays (53 kg), Michelle Fazzari (58 kg), Danielle Lappage (63 kg), Dorothy Yeats (69 kg) and Erica Wiebe (75 kg).
Focus for Garcia now shifts to final Rio preparations. The official team announcement will be held in June in partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee. Details regarding the event will be available in the coming weeks.