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Taylor, Godinez Gonzalez and Di Stasio become first Canadian wrestlers to qualify for 2024 Paris Olympics

March 01, 2024

ACAPULCO, MEXICO – The first Canadian wrestlers to punch their tickets to the 2024 Paris Olympics are now official. Summerside, P.E.I.’s Hannah Taylor, Coquitlam, B.C.’s Ana Godinez Gonzalez, and Burnaby, B.C.’s Justina Di Stasio all earned their way in on Feb. 29th at the Pan-American (Pan-Am) Olympic Qualifiers in Acapulco, Mexico.

Hannah Taylor

Taylor, from Brock Wrestling Club, was one of two women who also competed last week at the Pan-Am Championships, aiming to improve her seeding at 57kg. She did that and entered the Qualifiers as the three seed. In her quarter final match, she earned a win by superiority, 10-0, over Jacqueline Hernandez Gonzalez (HON).

That matched her up with Alma Valencia Escoto (MEX) in the final. In the match, Taylor opened an early lead and despite Valencia Escoto cutting into it, she was able to see it through, picking up the win 8-4 and becoming the first Canadian wrestler to qualify for the Paris Olympics.

“This feels incredible!” said Taylor “When I was younger, I used to play the Olympic game on my PlayStation, I used to watch the Olympics and I didn’t care what sport it was going to be, I knew my dream was to go to the Olympics. After my first practice, my wrestling coach said, ‘you are going to go to the Olympics.’ So, I stuck with it because my dream was to go to the Olympics and he thought I could. Now that this moment is finally here, I can’t even put it into words.”

Ana Godinez Gonzalez

Godinez Gonzalez, from Burnaby Mountain Wrestling Club, was the other competitor on the women’s side that elected to compete at the Pan-Am Championships the week before to improve her seed at 62kg. At the Championships, she matched up for the gold medal against Kayla Miracle (USA), a former two-time world silver medalist. While Godinez Gonzalez lost on criteria, she still did enough to get herself the second seed for the Qualifier.

At the Qualifier, she started strong with a 10-0 win by superiority over Sierra Brown Ton (JAM). That put her in a rematch from the week before with Lais Nunes (BRA), who Godinez Gonzalez defeated in the Championships semi final. This time it was another tight contest. Trailing 3-0, Godinez Gonzalez scored a trio of points from a push out, caution and passivity to even the score and lead on criteria. She would hang on to that advantage for the win 3-3, earning her place in Paris.

“Honestly I have no words, I am really happy, but it is a feeling I can’t explain, I have never felt this accomplished,” said Godinez Gonzalez. “It (the final match) was stressful, I just made sure I was focused and was able to pull through.”

Justina Di Stasio

Finally, the last competitor to earn her spot was Justina Di Stasio, from Burnaby Mountain Wrestling Club. The former World, Pan-Am Games and Commonwealth Games Champion was just missing one major Games on her resume and now she will have it as she heads to Paris.

Di Stasio entered the event as the number one seed at 76kg and looked to pick up the two wins needed for qualification. She opened the tournament against Saidy Chavez Figueroa (HON) and made quick work, winning by fall. She advanced to face Linda Machuca (ARG) in the semi final. While it was tied at the break, Di Stasio would move ahead for good in the second period winning 8-4 and securing her spot on Canada’s Olympic team.

“This feels amazing!” said Di Stasio.  “I have been working at this for so long and wanted to be in this position for so long. I said to myself I would do any thing to win today and throughout training I said I would do anything to get to the Olympics. So it feels really good to be going in the right direction.”

More results

Three other women competed at the Qualifiers. Embrun, Ontario’s Genevieve Morrison, won her quarter final match, 5-2, in the 50kg weight class, against Mariana Rojas Dias (VEN). She advanced to a semi final match against Yusneylis Guzman Lopez (CUB). Unfortunately for Morrison, she would lose the match 6-2.  Surrey, B.C.’s Karla Godinez Gonzalez lost in the quarter final to Laura Herin Avila (CUB) 8-2. Meanwhile, Montreal’s Linda Morais fell in her quarter final to Antonieta Carabello Hernandez (VEN).

On Feb. 28, the men’s Greco-Roman wrestling was contested. Canada sent a team of four competitors all looking to earn qualification. Despite a good effort, none of the men managed to earn qualification. Montreal’s John Yeats was victorious in his qualification round match at 77kg but was defeated in the quarter final by Yosvanys Pena Flores (CUB), Abbotsford, B.C.’s Jorawar Dhinsa dropped his two round robin matches to Cohlton Schultz (USA) and Eduard Soghomonyan (BRA),  London, Ontario’s Keeyan Trotman lost in the qualification round at 60kg to Alexis Rodriguez Hernandez (MEX), and London’s Gavin Eldridge lost his qualification round match to Elsi Martinez Ordonez (MEX) at 67kg.

Those that did not qualify will have one more chance at a final World Olympic Qualifier, May 9-12, in Istanbul, Turkiye.

The men’s freestyle competition goes tomorrow (March 1) as Canada will be looking to add more competitors to the Olympic team. Wrestling begins at 10 a.m. local and can be watched on uww.org.