Gold medallist Erica Wiebe of Stittsville, Ont., discusses Olympic game plan
'I had never had more fun on the wrestling mat than I did yesterday, and I think it really showed'
Hours before winning wrestling gold for Canada, Erica Wiebe awoke in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday in an exceptional mood, just knowing things would go well.
"I just had such a good feeling when I woke up this morning. I had done everything I could to prepare. And I woke up this morning and I just knew that no matter what the outcome, I would be so happy with my whole process," the 27-year-old from Stittsville, Ont., told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning by phone.
Wiebe, who now lives and trains in Calgary, said she "had never had more fun on the wrestling mat than I did yesterday, and I think it really showed.
"I really allowed myself to go out there and wrestle, and to compete in every position."
She dominated against veteran Guzel Manyurova of Kazakhstan 6-0 in the 75-kilogram final, thanks to her well-prepared game plan.
It was a victory cheered on by people in Ottawa, including at her wrestling club.
"She's a pioneer in the sport of wrestling, she's been around a long time, she's a double Olympic medalist and I knew it was going to be tough — she had experience on her side," Wiebe said, referring to Manyurova's silver in 2004 and bronze in 2012.
"But we had wrestled in the past and I knew that if I pushed the pace and if I stuck to my game plan, that I could win this. And so I just took it takedown by takedown. I didn't want to change anything. I was having a really great day. And so I just stuck to my game plan."
'It was certainly a proud moment,' mother says
Wiebe's mother, Paula Preston, was watching from the stands in Rio as her daughter won gold.
"Oh I'm still in shock," Preston told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning. "We still can't believe that it happened. Just an amazing moment to watch her.
"I was wiping tears, but it was certainly a proud moment. And I'm watching her on the big screen, a close-up of her singing the anthem, and it was amazing. You can hear me tearing up now, in my voice. It was amazing. What more can I say?"
The win was a bit of a comeback for Wiebe, who struggled with her confidence after losing a nationals competition, and missing out on last summer's Pan American Games and the worlds competition in Las Vegas in September 2015.
Preston said learning to lose ended up being a good experience for her daughter.
"I think that that was a turning point, when she lost [nationals]. I think she was thinking too far ahead during her match and wasn't focused on what she was trying to do, and I think it was a good learning experience for her in that context. It certainly proved out yesterday. But I think she now understands and accepts, as she said in some of the interviews, it's one match at a time."
After the win, Wiebe was hustled off to do interviews and testing at the doping control centre, and is now on a media tour, so Preston has only had about 20 seconds with her daughter to hug her.
"The joy in her face is just there. I think she's celebrating no matter what she's doing," she said.