Well the final day of women's competition ended an hour ago. When the dust settled to my pleasant surprize our Women's Team was 2nd in the team standings which was the best news I can deliver from the day. It was a really competitive team race this year and honestly I thought USA, Russia, Mongolia might pass us as we had entered the day with a lead on them.
At 67 kg Martine Dugreniers reign as World Champion came to an end. She opened the tournament with a fall vs Kazakstan, and looked to be wrestling well. In her next match, she lost a heart breaking match vs the Chinese athlete (the eventual World Champion). I know Martine is very dissapointted with the final outcome of her tournament (7th place). As usual she was effective in being agressive and initiating her attacks early on in her matches. Yet the tough defense of the Chinese athletes proved to be her key to a World Championship today. In her repachage match Adeline Gray of the USA came out aggressively and managed to score in the dying seconds of both rounds versus Dugrenier. It was just not meant to be this afternoon for Martine.
At 72kg Ohenewa Akuffo opened the tournament with a tough decision versus long time rival Kyoko Hamiguchi of Japan. It felt good to see one of our girls beat a member of this Japenese team that has been the dominating force in women's wrestling. But it was the USA's day today (against our athletes)... in her quarter final Ohenewa lost by fall to Ali Bernard of the United States. Leading late in the second round Bernard shot under Akuffo and kept driving up and into on a double... Ohenewa clamped and tried her over/under throw (lateral drop or pancake, man wreslting has funny names). Bernard almost rotated through to her back but managed to twist and stop Akuffos momentum and then settle on for the fall. It was hard to watch a third winnable match slip from our finger tips today! The risk of the counter attack worked for Akuffo at last tears Worlds yet Bernards suppliness and flexibility makes her hard to throw. We will have to get even with our American friends on another day, today they got the better of us... Perhaps the Olympics!
I want to congradulate our team for there efforts here and this past season. Being second as a team (in the largest Women's Worlds Ever) I believe is a testiment to the system of wrestling we built in our country. Our school systems have embraced wrestling as a great sport for women by and large. We have a Women's University league in the CIS that is exemplary (around the world) and provides many our national team athletes quality training environments and access to a quantity of tough matches that helps them to grow as wrestlers. We also have some of the most motivated and inspiring coaches I could ask for. They make being a Women Wrestler an exciting opportunity! Our women are seen as wrestlers first and not stereotyped based on there gender. This is a tough sport that teaches so much about the character of those who do it. Over the years our national team has been seen as skilled and tough, worthy of stepping up against the very best and expecting success!!! This is a tradition I want every wrestler to embrace (and even to build on!!!!). So many of our best up and coming wrestlers spent the summer training with this team and attending their own competitions and camps. This result is a testament to there drive and support too!
This December I sit down with Own the Podium and present our final game plan moving into the London Olympic Games. I will also begin to present our process and "strategic planning" for RIO and the 2016 Olympic Games!
My hope is that the large amount of people who have tuned into this blog for the World Championships will continue to help our sport grow and gain support! One email I received while I have been here was from an old friend who loves how our team represents us on the world stage... He vowed to donate $250 to the quest for gold program for every world medalst we got. I think this is fantasitic!!! Somewhere out there there must be a corporation that would be impressed by the skills and dedication our athletes display... Food for thought...
We are quickly transitioning into the men's competition. David Tremblay lost his opening match today versus the KGZ athlete. Tomorrow: John Pineda, Jeff Adamson, and Hetag Pliev all hit the mats tomorrow.
That is more than enough for now...
It has been a heck of an emotional ride...
Thanks for tuning in and supporting our team!