2016 Olympic Trials and the Sport of Wrestling

Author: Lindsay MacDonald

The Canadian Wrestling Olympic Team Trials were recently hosted by Strathcona County, Dec 4th– 6th 2015. I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of it and would like to share my experience with you! As I recently began my career as an RMT for Pivotal Physiotherapy, I was truly looking forward to being involved in sports, but from the other side of the field so-to-speak, as a therapist. My love for athletics has lead me to this career and I couldn’t wait for my chance to give back. It was a full circle experience that my first opportunity came from my University Wrestling Coach, Marty Calder, recruiting me to treat his athletes at the Olympic trials!

The Event and My Role

The Team Trials gathered Canada’s best wrestlers to compete in hopes of securing a spot on the Olympic team headed to Rio De Janerio for the 2016 Summer Games! They arrived from all over Canada to face their first opponent – the scale! To be competitive and get that extra edge over their opponents in their weight class, wrestlers cut weight. This involves a lot of sweat and some tears as they push their bodies and minds to the limit, and all before the competition even begins. After Weigh Ins, each athlete has his or her unique rituals but they mostly all involve rehydrating and eating carbs as they get back to their resting or training weights. As you can imagine, this can put an enormous strain on the body, even for a seasoned wrestler. As an RMT, I was able to treat these athletes with techniques that flushed metabolic waste, improved circulation and released tension before they got their much needed rest for the first day of competition. Many athletes used this time to talk strategy with coaching staff or watch videos of opponents.

Walking into the venue the morning of competition, I took a moment to reflect on what this day meant to these athletes. I knew firsthand what it takes to be competitive in this sport and I couldn’t imagine the hard work, preparation, discipline and sacrifices these athletes have had to make for this stage in their career.

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“Olympic Trials at Millennium Place – Sherwood Park, Alberta”

Throughout the weekend, I provided pre, post and interim event sport massage to a variety of athletes from talented young hopefuls to defending World champions. My treatments varied depending on the athlete’s needs and where they were in his or her competition ladder. In general, sports massage is performed with rapid invigorating movements aimed to keep the muscles warm, maintain joint flexibility, and reduce delayed onset muscles soreness (DOMS). Despite my treatment area being set up ‘behind the scenes”, I felt I had the best seat in the house! I was part of the athletes’ warm ups, mental prep rituals, their celebrations and their crushing loses.

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“In Blue, Cleopas Ncube who went on to win tournament and qualify for Rio 2016”

Photo credit: www.EYE58photography.com

One of the most memorable moments of the weekend was when two training partners, teammates and good friends squared off for the 48 kilogram top spot (see below). Genevieve Morrison, the defending champ, and Jasmine Mian, ranked 3rd overall, battled it out for the full 6 mins resulting in an upset win by Jasmin. In a show of true sportsmanship, the athletes hugged in the middle of the mat and walked off together.

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The Sport I love!

This experience rejuvenatied my love for wrestling. I competed in wrestling for over 15 years and I did not realize how much I missed this sport until now. Wrestling taught me discipline, patience, and mental fortitude. From the outside, wrestling can seem like a brutal sport that pits athletes against each other in feats of strength and intimidation, but there is so much more to the sport. Wrestlers can’t afford to be one-dimensional. It requires everything you have physically, mentally and emotionally each and every time you step onto the mat. At the end of the day, it is just you out there– nowhere to hide. This sport will expose any moments of weakness. During any given match, the more technical wrestler can beat the stronger, faster athlete. However, the true challenge is in the mental battle. As my coach used to say, “Matches are won and lost by heart” and “Who can find fuel in the empty tank”.

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“Me competing for Brock University at CIS 2005”

I am very proud of how far this sport has come. From Women’s wrestling appearing in its first Olympic Games in 2004 to the overwhelming support and fight against the ruling from the IOC to have Wrestling removed from future Olympic Games. I look forward to seeing further advancements in the sport following what is sure to be an amazing showing at the 2016 Olympic Games.

GO TEAM CANADA!!

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“ Our 2016 Team Canada…well most of them! GO CANADA GO”

Photo credit: www.wrestling.ca

Lindsay MacDonald Bkin, RMT

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