wiebe, erica, canada wrestling, Canada, Women's Wrestling, Olympic champion

RIO 2016 Champion Erica Wiebe Stays Committed to Olympic Dream

By United World Wrestling Press

“No other sport like it” for committed Olympic champ Erica Wiebe
Luke Norman, Special to United World Wrestling

In the 10 months since winning gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Canada’s Erica Wiebe has been mobbed “like The Beatles”, courted by the powerful world of WWE and challenged to endless eating competitions by her coach. But nothing has dimmed her focus on Tokyo 2020.

“I took some time, took a lot of the opportunities that were afforded me after I was successful in Rio. Now I am back. It is a huge challenge to do it again in Tokyo, but that is the goal,” said the Olympic 75kg champion.

“I really love wrestling.”

In early 2017, this passion, allied to an always independent and open mind, saw the Canadian embrace the kind of life-enhancing opportunity that comes with Olympic success. Drafted as captain of the women’s Mumbai Maharathi team, the 27-year-old took part in the Indian Pro Wrestling League.

“It was very different. There were lights, there was smoke, there was an announcer bellowing out my name, drums. I was recognised on the street, everywhere you went the Indian fans just went crazy,” Wiebe said of the three-week, city-state tournament.

Wrestling in front of thousands of passionate fans is something the Canadian lives for, but this took it to a new level. 


“After one particular match that we won, we did our media and then I had to have a guard of six security officers who were pushing all of the fans away from me as we got on the bus,” she said. “It was crazy, I felt like The Beatles.”

On and off the mat, Wiebe was way out of her habitual zone.

“The local Indians on the team, one by one begged me to go visit their families in their small villages nearby. We would drive and sit in one of their homes and drink fresh buffalo milk from the village buffalo and meet with their family. It was an experience I will never forget,” she said.
But ultimately, it is the competitor inside that still rules the 2014 Commonwealth Games champion. Despite winning all six of her bouts in India, her team were defeated in the semi-final. It is a loss that “still hurts”.

And it is this burning obsession with winning that led Wiebe to turn down the lucrative approach made by the WWE in late 2016. For one thing, she is too excited about her form on the mat to contemplate giving up Olympic competition.

“I have been successful and dominant internationally for a while,” said the woman who won 36 consecutive matches in 2014, “but I have never wrestled as well as I did on that one day in Rio. But I kind of feel like it was scratching the surface of what I am capable of.”

It has been a long but largely bump-free ride to reach such a place of confidence and serenity. Wiebe was a soccer-mad, 14-year-old schoolgirl when her eye was caught by a poster on the gymnasium door.

“It said ‘co-ed wrestling practice’. I had played soccer all my life to that point, but in that moment I was like ‘wrestling that sounds like so much fun, I’ll wear spandex and I’ll wrestle with boys’,” she laughed.

“So I went to my first practice and then instantly I was hooked on it.”

Thirteen years later, the sport continues to enthral Wiebe. And, despite all the potential distractions, this is a champion for whom her sport means everything.

“It (Wrestling) is a true display of character, perseverance, resiliency and grit. I don’t think there is another sport like it,” she said. “Wrestling had that tagline, ‘to wrestle is to be human’ and I couldn’t agree more. It is one of the purest forms of physical movement and sport we have.”

#WrestleElJadida

Egypt rides on four golds to win African Championships title

By Vinay Siwach

EL JADIDA, Morocco (May 22) -- For a second straight day, Egypt and Algeria were involved in a thrilling team title race at the African Championships.

Egypt, after winning the Greco-Roman team title Saturday by one point, pipped Algeria for the freestyle team title as the continental championships came to a close in El Jadida.

Egypt finished with 195 points to finish at the top while Algeria had 178 points. South Africa finished with 93 points to claim the third position.

The two nations were tied for gold medals at four apiece but wrestlers from Egypt reached the medal bout in all 10 weight classes while Algeria finished the opportunity at 57kg and had no entry in 125kg which hurt them the most.

Mostafa ELDERS (EGY)Mostafa ELDERS (EGY) won the 97kg gold medal. (Photo: UWW / Bayrem Ben Mrad)

In a crucial gold medal bout, Mostafa ELDERS (EGY) defeated U20 world bronze medalist Nicolaas DE LANGE (RSA) 7-0 at 97kg despite starting as the underdog.

De Lange was expected to win his first gold at African Championships but Elders had different ideas. He began with a quick takedown and roll to lead 4-0. De Lange went for Elders' leg on multiple occasions but could not finish a single move. The Egypt wrestler led 5-0 at the break.

Elders shifted to defense in the second period and De Lange found it extremely difficult to score. He was for fleeing during a stepout which gave a tiring Elders two more points. He managed to play out the remaining time on the clock to seal the team title for Egypt.

In another high-stake final, Tokyo Olympian Amr Reda RAMADAN (EGY) clinched his second African title by winning the gold medal at 74kg. In a bout he was expected to win comfortably, Ramadan trailed junior African champion Adelkader IKKAL (ALG) 5-1 after two minutes. 

Ikkal tried to shoot for Ramadan's legs numerous times in the second period but ended up giving up points which proved to be his undoing. Ramadan scored eight straight points on counters to win 9-5.

At 125kg, Youssif HEMIDA (EGY) made a mockery of his competition in the nordic bracket. With only three wrestlers entered, Hemida scored 11-0 wins over Anas LAMKABBER (MAR) and Hamza RAHMANI (TUN) to clinch the gold medal.

The former U23 World silver medalist, who trains in the USA, showed the gulf in the class in wrestling as Lamkabber and Rahmani looked out of sorts on the mat.

The fourth gold for Egypt came at 57kg as Gamal MOHAMED (EGY) held off Ebikewenimo WELSON (NGR), 5-0 in the final. In a controlled bout, Mohamed got the first point for Welson's passivity to lead 1-0 at the break.

He scored a takedown in the second period and wait for the clock to expire while fending off Welson's attacks. He got another takedown at the end off a desperate attack by Welson.

For Algeria, Tokyo Olympian Fateh BENFERDJALLAH (ALG) won his first senior African gold medal with a 6-2 win over Mahmoud BADAWI (EGY). He scored all of his six points in the first period while giving up two in the second.

The 21-year-old continues to improve at the senior level after qualifying Algeria for the Tokyo Olympics last year. The top seed in El Jadida began the tournament with an 11-0 win before pinning Edward LESSING (RSA) in the semifinal.

Mohammed FARDJ (ALG)Mohammed FARDJ (ALG) defended his 92kg gold at the African Championships. (Photo: UWW / Bayrem Ben Mrad)

Another Olympian who won the gold for Algeria was Mohammed FARDJ (ALG). Unlike Benferdjallah, Fardj displayed a dominating performance in the 92kg final against Imed KADDIDI (TUN). He won 11-0 to defend his title.

He outscored his opponents 34-0 over three bouts in what was a stunning performance throughout the day.

The fourth gold medal for Algeria was won by Chems FETAIRIA (ALG) who defeated Youssef AIT BOULAHRI (MAR), 13-3 in the 79kg final to win his first African title.

A trip and gut wrench gave Fetairia four points but Boulahri also got two for holding Fetairia in danger in the same sequence as the score read 4-3. But Fetairia launched a suplex in the first period for four before a match ending four-pointer in the second period.

79kg was also the weight where Mauritius won their first freestyle medal in 20 years. Jean STE MARIE (MRI), who lost to Boulahri 14-12 in the semifinal, defeated Donald MABUSELA (RSA), 12-2 in the bronze medal bout to end his country's 22-year wait for a freestyle medal.

The remaining two gold medals were captured by Guinea-Bissau as Mbunde CUMBA MBALI (GBS) claimed the 65kg title while Bacar NDUM (GBS) won the gold at 70kg by defeated Algerian opponents.

In the 65kg final, defending champion Cumba Mbali scored three points in the first period against Chouaib SAHRAOUI (ALG) and went into a shell. He was warned for passivity but that only cost him one point. He hung on for a 3-1 win and his third straight African Championships title.

Ndum was more dominant as he defeated Rami BRINIS (ALG), 9-0 in the 70kg final to become a first-time African champion.

Ndum's run in El Jadida included two technical superiority wins in the quarterfinal and semifinal before he maintained the clean slate in the final as well.

Another star from the country, Tokyo Olympian Diamantino IUNA FAFE (GBS) suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Welson in the 57kg semifinal. But he bounced back to claim the bronze medal with a 10-0 win over Rabby KILANDI (COD).

Freestyle Results

57kg
GOLD: Gamal MOHAMED (EGY) df. Ebikewenimo WELSON (NGR), 5-0 

BRONZE: Omar FAYE (SEN) df. Jakobo TAU (RSA), 18-11
BRONZE: Diamantino IUNA FAFE (GBS) df. Rabby KILANDI (COD), 10-0

61kg
GOLD: Abdelhak KHERBACHE (ALG) df. Shehabeldin MOHAMED (EGY), 3-0 

BRONZE: Sofiane EL KHAMER (MAR) df. Jordan Ngalula KABONGO (COD), 10-0
BRONZE: Awene DIATTA (SEN) df. Kenneth KOECH (KEN), 10-0 

65kg
GOLD: Mbunde CUMBA MBALI (GBS) df. Chouaib SAHRAOUI (ALG), 3-1

BRONZE: Yehia HAFEZ (EGY) df. Jason AFRIKANER (NAM), 4-3
BRONZE: Otmane EL BAHJA (MAR) df. Raby BAPELEKIA (CGO), 8-7

70kg
GOLD: Bacar NDUM (GBS) df. Rami BRINIS (ALG), 9-0

BRONZE: Mohamed ZORGUI (TUN) df. Anthony WESLEY (CPV), 11-0
BRONZE: Said ELGAHSH (EGY) df. Guy LAGO (CIV), 2-1

74kg
GOLD: Amr HUSSEN (EGY) df. Abdelkader IKKAL (ALG), 9-5

BRONZE: Arno VAN ZIJL (RSA) df. Mamadou DIOUF (SEN), 2-0
BRONZE: Ogbonna JOHN (NGR) df. Brian OLOO (KEN), 10-0 

79kg
GOLD: Chems FETAIRIA (ALG) df. Youssef AIT BOULAHRI (MAR), 13-3

BRONZE: Jean STE MARIE (MRI) df. Donald MABUSELA (RSA), 12-2
BRONZE: Andy MUKENDI (COD) df. Karim ELDOBAY (EGY), 12-6

86kg
GOLD: Fateh BENFERDJALLAH (ALG) df. Mahmoud BADAWI (EGY), 6-2

BRONZE: Ekerekeme AGIOMOR (NGR) df. Sabri MNASRIA (TUN), 9-0
BRONZE: Edward LESSING (RSA) df. Barthelemy TSHOSHA (COD), 8-1

92kg
GOLD: Mohammed FARDJ (ALG) df. Imed KADDIDI (TUN), 11-0

BRONZE: Machiel GROBLER (RSA) df. Timothee TOE (BUR), via forfeit
BRONZE: Noureldin HASSAN (EGY) df. Ahmed SEREHALI (MAR) , 10-0

97kg
GOLD: Mostafa ELDERS (EGY) df. Nicolaas DE LANGE (RSA) , 7-0

BRONZE: Ulrich MANOUAN (CIV) df. John FOLANE (BUR), via forfeit
BRONZE: Mohamed SAADAOUI (TUN) df. Abderrahmane BENACHA (ALG), 10-0

125kg 
GOLD: Youssif HEMIDA (EGY)
SILVER: Anas LAMKABBER (MAR)
BRONZE: Hamza RAHMANI (TUN)

Key match: Youssif HEMIDA (EGY) df. Anas LAMKABBER (MAR), 11-0 (Round 2)