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August 16, 2008
CBC Sports

Wrestler Verbeek captures Canada's third medal

Canadian wrestler Tonya Verbeek won the second Olympic medal of her career and Canada's third of the Beijing Summer Games on Day 8 of Olympic competition.

The Beamsville, Ont., native won bronze in the 55-kilogram weight class, beating Ida-Theres Nerell of Sweden by a score of 1-0, 1-0 in one of two bronze medal matches.

Verbeek, 31, won silver at the 2004 Athens Summer Games, the first to include women's freestyle wrestling.

She was smiling after the match, despite finishing one medal position below her 2004 Athens result. "I won a match to get the bronze and you're losing a match to get the silver," Verbeek said. "So it is a different feeling."

Her bronze medal in Beijing came minutes after her teammate Carol Huynh won Canada's first gold at 48-kilograms, and less than an hour after Canadian rowers Scott Frandsen and Dave Calder won silver, Canada's first medal of the 2008 Summer Games.

Verbeek attacked early in the match to score the first point and never looked back. Nerell was not able to score a point in the four-minute bout.

The Canadian grinned widely as the referee held up her arm to indicate she had won the match. That grin continued as she stood on the podium to receive her bronze medal, likely the final Olympic medal of her career. Verbeek has suggested Beijing will be her last Olympic Games.

Earlier Saturday Verbeek was eliminated from gold medal contention after she dropped a tough semifinal bout to the eventual gold medallist, Japan's Saori Yoshida. It was Yoshida who beat her four years ago to win gold in Athens.

Yoshida kept Verbeek scoreless, winning the bout 8-0 to send the Canadian to the repechage round.

"I was maybe a little too cautious," Verbeek said. "I was allowing her to dictate the pace of the match."

Verbeek's road to the bronze medal saw her sweep her round of 16 bout against Mongolia's Otgonjargal Naidan 7-0. She beat Ludmila Cristea of Moldova 6-1 in the quarter-finals.

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