In July 2016, I had the opportunity to go to my very first international tournament, the Ohio State Fair. Although not very far from home, I was bursting with excitement at the thought of all that I would accomplish. Getting to a place where wrestling outside of Canada was a possibility was no small feat. I had begged my mother to allow me to wrestle for almost a year and had been giving the sport all I had after receiving the go ahead. More than my high school training, I had begun training with Beat the Streets in 2015 on the weekends and over summer breaks.
The Ohio State Fair was specifically notable to me because of the disappointment I felt the year prior. That year, despite the effort I felt I was putting in, I watched all my new teammates attend without me.
But July 2016 would be my time to shine. I had teammates wrestling along side me and ones who came just to support me. The confidence and love I felt was unique and uplifting. Unfortunately though, my joy was short lived once the tournament began.
Folk-style. Not a friend of mine. In America, unlike most countries, they participate in folk-style wrestling instead of free-style. In folk-style, the referee does not call the wrestlers up after a take down. They must continue wrestling until the athlete who was taken down fights back onto their feet OR until the match is ended by fall or superiority. The latter was what brought about the end of my matches.
More than this, American wrestling is distinct in another aspect. Girls and boys both face each other. And not just at a young age, but well into high school, girls and guys must face one another. So in short, you can say that the Ohio State Fair wasn’t quite what I’d trained for.
Day 1 of the tournament I faced 4 different guys and was pinned in 4 different ways. Well over a minute of every match was spent with me bridging off my back ultimately to no avail. The next morning I woke with a strong pain in my shoulder and another day of wrestling ahead of me.
Day 2 of the tournament didn’t go any better than the first. Although this day I got to face girls, there were so few of us that the pools had a very wide range of weights. The pool of 3 that I was in consisted of a team mate a weight class above me who hadn’t wrestled the day before and an American girl well over my weight. My first match was with the American and I was winning 9-0 until I was re-rolled and trapped in a pin. Emotionally and physically drained as I was, the match with my teammate did not go any better.
And so I walked away from a tournament I had put so much hope into having lost all 6 of my matches and ultimately placing third out of 3.
The point in sharing this though is that now, in 2019, all that is to me is good story. I’m still wrestling and I’m still working hard and that defines me more that the fact that I have, and will continue to fail. So, in moments where you aren’t succeeding in the ways you’d hoped for, recognize that it is part of your journey. And hope that one day, even if it’s several years later, after moving on, you will look upon those moments fondly for what they gave you and showed you about yourself.