Canada's Amar Dhesi, Jordie Steen clinch Olympic wrestling berths

CBC

Amar Dhesi of Surrey, B.C., and Jordie Steen of Windsor, Ont., will join fellow wrestlers Erica Wiebe and Danielle Lappage in representing Canada at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

Dhesi pinned Charles Merrill of Puerto Rico for a semifinal victory on Sunday in the 125-kilogram bracket at the Pan-American qualifying tournament in Ottawa to guarantee a top-two finish and a Summer Games berth.

Earlier, Steen scored 13 unanswered points to win his 97kg semifinal 13-2 by technical superiority over Luis Miguel Perez Sosa of the Dominican Republic.

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Dhesi, who now lives and trains in Columbus, Ohio, beat 2016 Olympian Korey Jarvis of Elliot Lake, Ont., to win top heavyweight spot at the Canadian Wrestling Trials in December at Niagara Falls, Ont.

"It means everything. Since I started this sport at five- or six-years old that's all I could dream about. It was a long road, a lot of sacrifices," said Dhesi, who won his two round-robin matches by technical superiority. "It means a lot, not just for me but for my family, my community. I'm not done yet; this is just a step."

WATCH | Amar Dhesi pins Puerto Rican opponent to secure Olympic berth:

The 24-year-old was a standout at Oregon State University in Corvallis, where he was a three-time All-American and two-time Pac-12 most outstanding wrestler before being named Oregon State male athlete of the year in 2018.

Steen, 28, used his signature ankle lace attack to storm back to win.

"It's hard to imagine, I kept trying to do it one step at a time, one match at a time, one takedown at a time. I'm so happy," said Steen, who trains at the Montreal Wrestling Club. "It doesn't even feel real. It's been unreal. I don't want to sugarcoat it, getting to the Olympics is a tough, tough road but it feels so good when you finally make it happen."

WATCH | Jordie Steen realizes dream by qualifying for Tokyo Olympics

Dillon Williams of Ajax, Ont., was gut wrenched three times in a 10-0 loss to Alejandro Valdes Tobier of Cuba.

In the quarter-finals, Williams needed only 25 seconds to defeat Ecuador's Mauricio Javier Saltos with a series of ankle laces.

The tournament was held without spectators inside the competition venue to reduce the risk of the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Wiebe, the defending Olympic women's champion in the 76-kilogram division, and Lappage secured Olympic spots at the Shaw Centre on Saturday.

There will be a last chance Olympic Qualification Tournament later in the year. It was originally scheduled to run April 30 to May 3 in Sofia, Bulgaria, but has been postponed to the beginning of June.

Three other Canadian men lost in Sunday's quarter-finals:

  • 57kg division — Ligrit Sadiku of Summerside, P.E.I., was blanked 10-0 by American Thomas Gilman

  • 74kg — Jasmit Phulka dropped a 10-7 decision to Franklin Gomez Matos of Puerto Rico

  • 86kg — Clayton Pye of Ingersoll, Ont., fell 11-0 to Argentina's Ricardo Adrian Baez

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