Klara Patel & brother Andrew. Photo: Phi Trinh
By Phi Trinh
Klara Patel’s climb up the provincial podium is complete. On the heels of 6th place and bronze medal performances, the Merivale Marauders senior this time earned a gold medal from the OFSAA high school wrestling championships Mar. 1-3 in Brampton.
“We had a moment at the podium, but we didn’t really celebrate it,” recounts the 67.5 kg division champion who went 4-0 on her way to gold. “I went home and ate a lot. I guess that’s how wrestlers celebrate. Then the next day I’m back to the mat to train.”
Family was the source of inspiration behind Patel’s first foray onto the mat, her brother Andrew in particular.
“He’s 5 years older than me,” Patel notes. “When he started high school, he joined the wrestling club and I had to go with him because I was too young to stay at home alone.
“I was like, ‘This is cool! I’d like to do it.’”
Her father was also heavily involved in the sport with her future National Capital Wrestling Club, and coaching the team at Nepean High School.
“Early on, when I started becoming competitive, we decided that ‘dad was dad’ and he wasn’t going to do the coaching,” signals Patel, whose mother also carried a strong sports background as a runner. “But having parents who understand athlete’s life definitely helps me.”
The OFSAA gold may well stand as the pinnacle moment of Patel’s wrestling career. The lone member of Merivale’s wrestling program is unsure if she’ll continue to wrestle in university; she’d prefer to go to school in Ottawa, but there are no varsity wrestling teams in town.
“For me and my family, education first,” underlines Patel, who went on to place 5th at the junior nationals later in March.
Patel was one of five local wrestlers to claim medals at OFSAA. Also standing on the podium were Jessica Hong, a Grade 10 Sir Robert Borden student (silver, 44 kg), Cairine Wilson’s Devan Larkin (silver, 64 kg), Brookfield’s Ibrahim Ayyoub (bronze, 83 kg) and Grade 9 Maurice-Lapointe student Matthew Vecchio (bronze, 38 kg).
Sr. silver for Ottawa-raised wrestler
Adam MacFadyen earned the top result for a local athlete at the Mar. 24-26 Canadian Junior/Senior Championships in St. Catharines, but his silver medal performance still left him unsatisfied.
“It’s an improvement from last year (a bronze medal), but it’s still a little upsetting,” says the 22-year-old who’s enjoyed past success nationally and internationally in judo and sambo.
With the goal of becoming a better-rounded grappler, MacFadyen moved to London, Ont. 2 years ago to work with his uncle, 2-time Olympian Ray Takahashi, the long-time head coach of the University of Western Ontario Mustangs wrestling team.
“It has helped so much,” underlines MacFadyen, who is eyeing a spot on Canada’s team for the inaugural Under-23 World Championships later this year. “I didn’t have much wrestling skills before. My wrestling has improved leaps and bounds.”
—with files from Anil Jhalli