Reigning wrestling champion Erica Wiebe loses her first match – .

Reigning wrestling champion Erica Wiebe loses her first match – .

CHIBA, Japan – A five-year effort to return to the top of the Olympic podium ended in about five minutes on Sunday for Canadian wrestler Erica Wiebe.
Estonian Epp Maee quickly took the lead and hung on for a 5-4 victory in his first round clash at Makuhari Messe Hall. It was a surprisingly early outing for the reigning champion, who couldn’t recover from a slow start.

“My only goal today was to do my best, and I think I did that in the last two minutes of the game,” said Wiebe. “It wasn’t enough today. “

Her official elimination from the women’s 76 kilogram freestyle draw was finalized shortly thereafter. Wiebe had a slim chance of falling in the draft for a bronze chance, but that hope was dashed when Maee lost her next game.

“It’s a new competition,” Maee said of the Rio Games champion. “The previous result doesn’t matter. It was a new game, it was a new day. We were both there to win. “

Maee, a two-time bronze medalist at the world championships, led 3-0 at the break and added another two early in the second round. Wiebe of Stittsville, Ont., Scored one out and had two more runs as he turned Maee’s shoulders to the mat.

The Canadian valiantly tried in the dying seconds to score with an out or out, but Maee managed to make some attempts.

“I know how (Erica) can move and I know the pressure she can put on people and I felt she didn’t do that from the start,” said Canadian coach Paul Ragusa. “It took a little while to adjust to the game, that’s all. “

Wiebe had to adjust his training plans during the pandemic, bringing weights and a wrestling mat to his basement. When the facilities were closed last year, the Calgary athlete trained outside on the grass and often battled the shadows by visualizing the attacks.

“I’m definitely further from the mats than I have cumulatively over the last 10 years probably,” she said. “So it was a challenge to do it. “

Ragusa noted that high performance programs in European countries had more options last year for travel and training, adding that many teams were able to run regular camps.

Wiebe, meanwhile, sometimes had limited training partners and limited travel options.

“We had to really adjust our plan around the quarantines and that,” she said. “We have created a good, solid environment for ourselves. Under the current circumstances, we were able to do what we could and be as prepared as possible for this tournament. “

Wiebe returned to competition late last year but suffered knee and ankle injuries before the Games. She was determined to persevere no matter the challenge.

“I like to live my life with delusional optimism,” she said. “So I had a plan from A to Z, for each result. You must catastrophize your situation. You have to think, “What is the worst case scenario and how can I get over it to be successful again?” “”

Wiebe said she tore her medial collateral ligament last December and her lateral collateral ligament a month later. A severe ankle sprain – suffered a few weeks ago in her last game before Tokyo – left her in a walking boot.

“She was prepared here,” Ragusa said. “It had no impact on her. She wasn’t 100% but I don’t think that ankle impacted her movements here. “

Wiebe, who won world bronze in 2018, did not make his usual jump in the first round. She wasted time when she got stuck in certain positions and struggled to generate offense.

“I think she twisted her knee pretty badly on the first teardown, the same one she injured,” Ragusa said. “I think it hampered the movement a bit. But in the end, she got the withdrawal anyway.

“So she’s still moving. I don’t think she had any excuses. “

Maee fell to Japan’s Hiroe Minagawa, who qualified for the evening semi-finals against Germany’s Aline Rotter Focken. Five-time world champion Adeline Maria Gray was due to face Kyrgyz Aiperi Medet Kyzy in the other semi-final.

Medal fights were scheduled for Monday.

“I felt so ready,” Wiebe said. “My team, despite all the challenges, we came together and found a way to train and compete every moment.

“I am so proud and grateful to be here today. “

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 1, 2021.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.


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