Canada takes number one spot among twelve nations in Olympic preparation tournament

(Gotzis, AUT – June 10, 2012) Canada’s women wrestling team competing at the international Austria Open dominated the twelve-nation tournament, with five wrestling taking gold or silver medal in their respective weight categories.

The tournament, which has a history of strong participation, had less wrestlers competing this year, however, the quality of the field was no less important than previous editions.

Four Canadian women wrestled their way to the gold medals – Jessica Macdonald in the 51 kg, two-time Olympic medallist Tonya Verbeek in the 55 kg, and Dorothy Yeats in the 67 kg and Leah Callahan in the 72 kg weight category.

“I set some goals for the tournament and feel like I did a good job of achieving them,” said Tonya Verbeek. “I would have liked to face a couple more athletes I will be facing in London, however, I got to make the best of this and I am glad to get four decent matches here.”

Olympic gold medallist Carol Huynh, who was scheduled to participate at the event, pulled out before the event for precautionary measures to heal an injury she had last week in Tokyo. “Even though I didn’t get to compete here, it is still nice to see my team step outonto the mat and be a force to be reckoned with. It is pretty easy to be frustrated and disappointed when you miss competing in a tournament you want to be in. But I got tomake sure I will be ready at the right time and there are still lots of things I feel I can learn and get out of this trip. We decided I’m just not quite ready to compete this weekend, but I feel like I am doing very well.”

Also London-bound to represent Canada is Leah Callahan, who also won the top prize in Austria against seven wrestlers, and she did it beating three competitors she will be facing this summer at the Olympic Games. “I guess it felt pretty awesome… I can’t remember being in a tournament where I had three super tough matches like that. I am very happy with the way I competed.”

Leigh Vierling The Head Coach of thewomen’s wrestling program at Wrestling Canada Lutte was thrilled with the performance of the Canadian delegation in Austria. “The team here did a great job in general of going out and imposing our style of wrestling in the tournament. I think we are one of the best ground wrestling teams in the world right now, which is exciting because all our athletes need is one opportunity on the ground to break a match wide open.”

Vierling is also happy with the team with regards to the physical preparations for London. “I also think our conditioning and mental toughness really showed when we found ourselves in a three-round match. You can see many of our opponents fade or start to panic as the match gets tougher.”

“There were some very strong performances here. Leah Callahan’s gold medal match was a fantastic effort! Four champions in the five weight classes we entered is quite an accomplishment.”