"I haven't wrestled that many people,” says Matilda Pinksen. “I haven't been in many competitions.”
In fact, 15-year-old Pinksen just started in her sport four months ago.
Born and raised in Iqaluit, her background is in judo, but she’s determined and strong and will be a force to be reckoned with at the Arctic Winter Games in Alaska.
In the past few months, Pinksen’s been hitting the gym three to four times a week to practice moves before the upcoming matches.
“We've been working on a little bit of everything to get the basics,” says her coach, Daniel Young.
Team Nunavut Wrestlers
Daniel Young, Coach, Iqaluit
Danielle Fitzgerald, Manager, Arviat
Shelby Angalik, Arviat
Marcus Angutiqjuaq, Igloolik
Jillian Kaviok, Arviat
Johnny Kaviok, Arviat
Johnny Misheralak, Rankin Inlet
Matilda Pinksen, Iqaluit
Tommy Tugak, Rankin Inlet
Young is a former Arctic Winter Games athlete himself. He grew up in Iqaluit and won gold in Inuit-style wrestling and a silver in freestyle wrestling at the 2002 games in Greenland. In 2004, he won gold in both events at the games in Fort McMurray, Alta.
“This close to the competition, we kind of need to focus on what she's good at," Young says, "and a lot of defensive things that she may not see in judo but that are more common in wrestling."
Pinksen will join six other Nunavut wrestlers at the Arctic Winter Games.
The entire team — four boys and three girls — recently trained in Montreal with experienced national wrestlers at the Olympic training centre.
Pinksen says, in her experience, female wrestler are fierce and scary, while male wrestlers use their brute strength.
“I can't wait, but I'm a little bit nervous too, but I'm just really excited," she says.
Her coach has his own advice.
“One: stay off your back. Two: don’t let anyone grab your legs. And three: Just don’t be a wimp.”