The Champ’s comin’ home

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Erica Wiebe won the women’s 76 kg division at December’s Canadian trials in St. Catharines, Ont. Photo: Wrestling Canada

For the first time since high school, Rio 2016 Olympic champion Erica Wiebe will be wrestling back in Ottawa when she wears the maple leaf for the 2020 Pan-American Olympic Qualification Tournament Mar. 13-15 at the Shaw Centre.

Wiebe earned Canada’s entry in the women’s 76 kg division thanks to her victory at the Dec. 6-8 Canadian trials in Niagara, where she won her first two bouts 10-0 and then took down 2018 72 kg world champion Justina Di Stasio 5-2 and 2-1 in the best-of-3 final.

“It’s going to be different. I’ve never wrestled in my hometown of Ottawa, and a lot’s on the line,” Wiebe, 30, said via Wrestling Canada. “I’ll just do a lot more of what I do every single day – get that 1% better.”

The Calgary-based Sacred Heart Catholic High School grad missed her first shot at Olympic qualification with a last-second quarter-final defeat at September’s World Championships.

The top two finishers in each weight class at the Pan-Am qualifier will secure a spot for their country at the July 24-Aug. 9 Tokyo Olympics.

Two other local wrestlers were also victorious in the men’s greco-roman competitions at the Canadian trials. Ottawa native Adam Macfayden topped the 60 kg division, while Ioannis Narlidis of the new Carleton (University) wrestling club dominated the 87 kg class.

After battling injuries over the course of several years, Carleton’s Alex Brown-Theriault was missing only the Hollywood ending in his comeback story. Unseeded in the men’s 86 kg freestyle competition at the trials, the 2013 Jeux de la Francophonie bronze medallist took down 3 opponents to make the best 2-of-3 final, which he ultimately lost 2-1 to Clayton Pye from the host Brock Wrestling Club.

Reigning Canadian junior champion Ismail Ayyoub of the National Capital Wrestling Club also recorded a victory in the men’s 86 kg freestyle division before falling in the quarter-finals.

Ottawa will also host the Pan Am Championships (for the full spectrum of international weight categories, on top of the six Olympic classes) a week before the Olympic qualifiers, from Mar. 6-9 at the Shaw Centre.

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