Canada’s Tonya Verbeek wins silver in 55-kg event
LONDON—Tonya Verbeek has won a silver medal in the women's
55-kilogram wrestling event at the London Olympics.
The Grimsby, Ont. wrestler competed in the gold medal match today
and was defeated by Saori Yoshida of Japan.
Verbeek won a silver at the Athens Olympics in 2004 and then followed
that with a bronze at Beijing in 2008.
Verbeek, a smart defensive tactician on the mat, has been wrestling
tremendously well today, winning all three of her matches.
Verbeek, who will turn 35 next week, was in tough against Yoshida.
The 29-year-old Japanese wrestler is the two-time defending Olympic
champion and a nine-time world champion. She has also been Verbeek’s
major nemesis at the last two Olympics. Yoshida beat Verbeek in
the gold medal match in 2004 by a 6-0 score. She then beat her in
the semifinal in 2008 by an 8-0 score. Verbeek, though, almost beat
Yoshida in a match at last year’s world championship, pushing
the reigning champ to a third period.
After Verbeek’s semifinal victory, she told Sportsnet broadcaster
Arash Madani: “The chance to wrestle for gold, and this being
the end of my career, it means everything.”
Fellow Canadian wrestler Leah Callahan, who did not advance past
the first round today in the 72-kilogram event, said she is “ecstatic”
that Verbeek has moved on.
“She’s wrestling really well and just seems really
confident,” said Callahan. “It would mean the world
(to her). She’s been medalling at the worlds for a decade
so to finally get the gold would be huge. She’s in a good
place. She’s not putting all the pressure on herself. It would
mean a lot.”
The 25-year-old Callahan said Verbeek is someone the young Canadian
wrestlers look up to.
“As a young athlete, it’s amazing to be on her team
and see her go through this experience,” she said. “Everybody
at Canada Wrestling looks up to her.”
With files from The Canadian Press