Monday, July 28, 2014

Commonwealth Wrestlers take to the Mat Tomorrow for first Day of Competition

Greetings from Glasgow. It has been a fine few days of settling into Games life. Three nights ago I was fortunate enough to get top see the Men's 69kg weight lifting competition, and tonight again we were offered tickets to this evenings swimming event! I really enjoy seeing other world class competitions, seeing some of the best athletes demonstrate their competitive spirit is exciting, no matter what the sport.

The past few days have really just revolved around "games life", walking to the transportation mall to catch busses (to the training site on the first two days, and then to the competition site the next two days). Our athletes and staff have been setting the schedule for 1 mat training time and individualized weight maintenance and physical training as needed. The very first day we spoke to the athletes and talked about our desire to have a great games and competitive result from the group, but we also asked them to maintain a training lifestyle and focus. The games are the last prep tournament this year prior to the world championships and really part of our overall preparation plan.
I would say the athletes have embraced this fact, and have done a good job thus far. Following the competition they will have a few days to enjoy the games (see events, explore Scotland, etc.), yet they have committed to continued daily training as usual!

The other portion of many of the athletes day has been set out to ensure they are maximizing the services and support set out for them here. An example of this was as we walked back to the dorms from a late dinner tonight we saw Erica Wiebe sitting outside in one of the two Cold baths the Canadian Commonwealth Committee have set up for athletes. It was 9pm, but she really wants to feel fresh and recovered from making weight today. She will have four matches starting tomorrow at 10 am and her physical (and mental) readiness is something she takes very seriously. Many of our girls have been doing this daily, along with massage, and various athletic therapy. Our athletes here have been quite professional in their diligence to make sure every issue gets dealt with as thoroughly as needed.

Yet along the way I hope our team have been able to enjoy each day, meet new people, share their experiences and learn from others. Jasmine Mian had a short meeting with me this evening after we returned home from the weight ins. As we were discussing her competition tomorrow she looked me in the eye and said, I loved watching MJ (Canadian 69kg Female weightlifter) compete today! I was so inspired by her intensity and the true desire in her eyes as she competed so great! I wanna be like THAT on the mat! I thought it was great to see how our team is learning and seeing the lessons every sport has to teach.

I will say the Glasgow experiences have been special and unique. The city itself has a beautiful downtown and the people have been nothing short of amazing. The citizens of Glasgow have been charming and engaging at every turn. Typically at the Olympic Games the Olympic Committee rents an establishment and Calls it "Canada House" a place where Canadians can go and meet and enjoy the games together. This does not happen for the Commonwealth Games, yet this year a Canadian who owns a bar here has offered his establishment to be the "Canada House" of the games! Bacchus Cafe and Bar has been great. Having medal acknowledgement nights every second evening for Canada. Canadian flags everywhere and no shortage of hospitality from the patrons! Also Surinder and Alex walked around the corner from the village to a local pub in the evening and they said they were treated like true rockstars... It has been fun to experience.

It is a busy day tomorrow, with our first group of athletes starting to compete (Jasmine Mian-48kg, Erica Wiebe-75kg, Chris Laverick-74kg, Jarvis-125kg), another group of 6 weigh in, and yet another group have one more day of pre-competition training.

Jasmine Mian 48kg: has four solid competitors in it. She drew a bye in the first round of wrestling. She will face the winner of India and Nigeria in her first bout. This is a different Nigerian than we have seen in the past yet their 48kg athletes have always been high quality athletes with good toughness. The indian wrestler has a solid base of international experience and Jasmine will need to be on her game for the entire match. I believe Jasmine definitely has every tool she needs to be successful here! On the other side of the draw is Yana Stadnik (formerly from the Ukraine) and a very good little wrestler from Cameroon should be a interesting match up.

Erica Wiebe 75kg: Erica has four guaranteed matches tomorrow. First up the English girl has far less experience (and athleticism) than her (in my opinion). Second match she will face Nigeria, again this is a different wrestler than we have faced here before, I am expecting a solid physical athlete. We will watch her first match and hopefully get a quick idea of her style. Third match Erica faces Cameroon. This athlete has beaten her before and actually has fairly substantial international results including participation in the Olympic Games. Her fourth and final match will be versus the wrestler from India. It should be a busy morning for her with three matches in 2 hours. I am very confident in the way Erica has been carrying herself here (and throughout the year). Again we had a short chat tonight and just reiterated what her real goals are. Not to get caught up in unrealistic expectation. people will challenge her here, embrace each challenge as an opportunity to lead her where she has worked so hard to be. That is onto the World Podium this year.

Chris Laverick-74kg: Chris is very excited to be here at the games. He has Nigeria in his first match tomorrow and I know Sushil Kumar of India is also on his side. I anticipate (but am not sure) that the Nigerian wrestler will be strong on the mat (yet conditioning may be suspect). Yet I will leave that to Gia to devise a game plan to deal with hiss opponent.

Korey Jarvis-125kg: The big man narrowly lost the gold medal match 4 years ago in Delhi at 96kg. I know he is excited for another chance to hit the top of the podium at the Commonwealth games. Having helped coach him last time I think it is a very realistic goal. He will face Kenya in his opening match. On the other side of the draw Nigeria and India face off in a first round showdown which should be very interesting.

We have spoken to our athletes, everyone has a plan for what they need to do in the morning. We have watched tape on the athletes we know and I feel very good as we head to bed tonight. Excited for the matches the day will hold tomorrow. During the day today at the venue they were playing music and practicing all of the things that will taker place tomorrow. The announcer was great, and true energy was fun (and that was with none in the arena)! The venue itself looks very similar to the set up in London at the Excel centre. Im excited for our athletes to give the spectators their and the fans in Canada something to cheer about!

Glasgow organizing committee have adopted a couple of catchy phrases as part of their promotions. The one I like is #Bringiton2014!
On that note...
Good night from Glasgow!

Go Canada,
Coach V

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