Wrestling Canada
Wrestling Canada

Five Team Canada wrestlers earn their Olympic tickets for Paris 2024

Team Canada has qualified its first five wrestlers for Paris 2024.

Justina Di Stasio (76kg), Ana Godinez Gonzalez (62kg), and Hannah Taylor (57kg) all earned their tickets to Paris on Thursday at the Pan American Olympic Qualifier in Acapulco, Mexico. It will be the first Olympic appearance for all three women. They were followed on Friday by Alex Moore (86kg) and Amar Dhesi (125kg), who secured their spots in men’s freestyle events. Dhesi will head to his second straight Olympic Games.

Team Canada Paris 2024 Qualification Tracker

“This feels incredible,” Taylor said following her 8-4 victory over Mexico’s Alma Valencia Escoto in the 57kg semifinal that ensured her qualification. There are two Olympic spots available per weight class at the Pan Am qualifier.

“When I was younger, I used to play the Olympic game on my PlayStation, I used to watch the Olympics and I didn’t care what sport it was going to be, I knew my dream was to go to the Olympics. After my first practice, my wrestling coach said, ‘you are going to go to the Olympics.’ So, I stuck with it because my dream was to go to the Olympics and he thought I could. Now that this moment is finally here, I can’t even put it into words.”

Godinez Gonzalez had competed at the Pan Am Championships last week in an effort to improve her seeding for the qualifier, which she did. That strategic decision put her on the opposite side of the 62kg bracket from American Kayla Miracle, so she wouldn’t have to go through the two-time world silver medallist to get to Paris. In the semifinal, Godinez Gonzalez defeated Brazilian Lais Nunes for a second straight week to secure her Olympic spot.

“Honestly I have no words, I am really happy, but it is a feeling I can’t explain, I have never felt this accomplished,” said Godinez Gonzalez. “It (the final match) was stressful, I just made sure I was focused and was able to pull through.”

The last Canadian to hit the mat on Thursday was Di Stasio, who had her eyes set squarely on the one thing missing from her accomplished resumé that already includes gold medals at the world championships, Pan Am Games, and Commonwealth Games. The top seed in the 76kg event recorded an 8-4 victory in the semifinals to finally earn her first Olympic berth.

“This feels amazing!” said Di Stasio.  “I have been working at this for so long and wanted to be in this position for so long. I said to myself I would do any thing to win today and throughout training I said I would do anything to get to the Olympics. So it feels really good to be going in the right direction.”

First to book his spot on Friday was Moore, who took the lead in his 86kg semifinal with a pair of passivity points before scoring a final minute takedown and converting into a pin for the win.

“This is unbelievable. I have been through so much to get to this point,” said Moore. “Four years ago, I tore my ACL. Then, I needed shoulder surgery a week before my wrestle-off. Even this year, I broke my hand and was in a cast for four weeks. That is just the tip of the iceberg. To overcome everything and be here, it feels amazing. I always thought that I would make the Olympics, but to face all the adversity I have, to stick with it and now I’m going to the Olympics, I’m an Olympian! It is the greatest feeling in the world.”

Dhesi was Canada’s lone returnee from the Tokyo 2020 team attempting to qualify once again. He was vastly superior in his 125kg semifinal, earning the 11-0 victory.

“It feels great to qualify for my second Games. I want to give a special thanks to my family, friends and especially coaches for getting me here. It may have been short, with just three years since the last Olympics, but it still felt like a long journey to me. Now, I am glad I get to do it again. Let’s go get an Olympic medal!” said Dhesi.

Those that did not secure Olympic spots here will have one more opportunity at the final World Olympic Qualifier which will take place May 9-12 in Istanbul, Türkiye.