Ottawa

'Bewiebers' pack airport to welcome Olympic champion Erica Wiebe home

Erica Wiebe, the 27-year-old wrestler from Stittsville, Ont., who won Olympic gold in Rio, is back home.

Community celebration in wrestler's honour to be held Thursday

Olympic gold medal wrestler Erica Wiebe arrives at the Ottawa International Airport on Aug. 23, 2016. (CBC)

Erica Wiebe, the 27-year-old wrestler from Stittsville who won Olympic gold in Rio, is back home.

A group of fans, well wishers and fellow wrestlers that included Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson greeted Wiebe and her gold medal at the Ottawa International Airport with loud applause and cheering.

A bagpiper playing The Maple Leaf Forever preceded the medallist down the escalator and into the arrivals hall, where Wiebe accepted flowers, autographed flags and signs, and posed for pictures with her medal.

Wiebe told reporters she heard people would be there to greet her and was more nervous to come down the airport escalator than she was when she wrestled in the gold medal match on Thursday.

"It's something that's so special to feel so much love from my hometown community and I'm just so proud to be from Ottawa," she told reporters.

City will honour her

Wiebe dominated in the 75-kilogram freestyle wrestling against veteran Guzel Manyurova of Kazakhstan — who took silver in 2004 and bronze in 2012 — winning by a score of 6-0 after downing Vasilisa Marzaliuk of Belarus, China's Fengliu Zhang and Germany's Maria Selmaier earlier in the day.

With the victory, Wiebe — who now lives and trains in Calgary — follows in the footsteps of two-time Olympic medallist Carol Huynh, the winner of Canada's first-ever gold in women's wrestling in Beijing eight years ago, and Tonya Verbeek, who finished on the podium at three separate Games.

Canada's only other gold in wrestling was won by Daniel Igali in 2000.

"It's been a crazy couple of days, I've been trying to ride the wave and take care of myself but also enjoy every moment of it," Wiebe said.

"Also share it with my friends, my family and all of Canada because this medal truly is the work of so many people and so many supporters across Canada. I just want to share it with everyone."

Wiebe said she was excited to sleep in her childhood bedroom after a 24-hour trip that started Monday morning in Rio's Olympic Village, with stops in Sao Paolo and Toronto.

Watson and Stittsville ward Coun. Shad Qadri have invited residents to join them at the Goulbourn Recreation Complex at 7 p.m. Thursday for a community celebration of Wiebe's success in Rio.

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