Michelle Fazzari wrestles Brazil’s Joice Souza da Silva at the Pan American qualifier on March 4, 2016. (Photo: Tony Rotundo/WrestlerAreWarrior)
Jillian Gallays, Michelle Fazzari, Dorothy Yeats and Erica Wiebe earned spots on Canada’s Rio 2016 wrestling team at the Pan American Olympic qualifier in Frisco, Texas on Friday.
The Canadians held nothing back at the Pan American Olympic qualifier. Despite only requiring a top two finish in their weight classes to earn an Olympic berth, each wrestler fought to a gold medal. The quartet joined Jasmine Mian (48kg) and Danielle Lappage (63kg,) who secured Rio 2016 spots in December for berths that Canada had earned at the 2015 World Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas.
Gallays, the 2014 world bronze medallist, dominated the 53kg category and easily defeated her opponents, who were unable to secure a single point against the Canadian. Gallays beat Whitney Conder of the United States (12-0), followed by Luisa Valverde Melendres from Ecuador (10-0), before winning by forfeit against Betzabeth Arguello Villegas of Venezuela.
Fazzari faced a close first match in the 58kg quarterfinals, beating Allison Ragan of the United States 5-4. However, once the Canadian had a victory on her column, she easily defeated Virginia Fernandez of Venezuela 9-0, before winning the final by fall against Brazil’s Joice da Silva 10-3.
The 2015 Pan Am Games champion, Yeats (69kg) earned a 12-2 victory over Yudari Sanchez of Cuba, before winning 5-0 against Tamyra Mensah of the United States. Yeats saved her best performance for last winning the gold medal match 10-0 after leaving Gilda De Oliveira of Brazil scoreless. She’s following in the footsteps of her father Doug, a five-time Olympian in wrestling.
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Wiebe, the 2014 Commonwealth Games champion, secured three 75kg weight class wins in a round robin format, to earn her spot at Rio 2016. The Canadian beat Cuba’s Lisset Medina 2-0, Venezuela’s Jaramit Guanipa 10-0, Puerto Rico’s Rivera Suarez 6-3.
Canada is the first country to qualify for all six women’s wrestling events, leaving the squad to focus on the upcoming Games at Rio de Janeiro. The team will look to improve Canada’s performance at London 2012, where Tonya Verbeek (55 kg) and Carol Huynh (48 kg) won silver and bronze respectively.