Sports

Commonwealth Games Primer: Wrestling

Neither of the country's Olympic wrestling medallists from 2012 is among the 14 Canadians competing in Glasgow, but Canada carries a reputation as one of the sport's best in the Commonwealth.

Canada among most successful in Commonwealth

Canada's Korey Jarvis, right, lost to Nigeria's Sinvie Boltic, left, in the men's 96-kg final at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. (Ian Walton/Getty Images)

An optional sport, wrestling makes its second straight appearance at the Commonwealth Games since being left off the program in 2006 in Melbourne.

Fourteen gold medals are up for grabs in Glasgow, with seven weight classes for both men and women. The men's divisions range from 57 kg (about 126 pounds) to a maximum of 125 kg (about 266 pounds) The women tip the scales between 48 kg (about 126 pounds) and 75 kg (165 pounds).

Every event is freestyle, as the men's Greco Roman divisions were left off the program after being part of the 2010 Games in Delhi.

In Greco Roman wrestling, athletes aren't permitted to go after an opponent's legs (whether to trip or even hold them) or actively use their own legs for anything other than strength and balance. As a result, there's more clinching and a greater emphasis on "throw" moves (like the hip toss) than in freestyle wrestling, where legs are fair game.

Still, the object in both disciplines is the same: get your opponent on his back and pin his shoulders to the mat. Sounds easy, eh? The tough part is that good wrestlers are often too strong, quick and smart to let themselves get pinned, so points are awarded for various maneuvers — the number of points depending on the difficulty of the move.

A new match format was put in place by wrestling's international governing body in response to the sport's brief ouster from the Olympic roster (it has since been reinstated). Rather than three two-minute periods, there's now a pair of three-minute rounds. And instead of a best-of-three format, it's the top cumulative score that wins.

All weight classes are one-day competitions, so fitness is key.

Canadians to watch

Canada may be considered the top wrestling country at the Glasgow Games. Over the last two Olympics, Canada led all Commonwealth countries with four medals. India was right behind at three and beat the Canadians 19-14 in medals at the 2010 Delhi Games, but the Indian team had the home-mat advantage there.

Neither of Canada's Olympic wrestling medallists from 2012 — Carol Huynh and Tonya Verbeek — is among the 14 Canadians competing in Glasgow.

Wrestling Canada has spotlighted four athletes to watch:

  • Dorothy Yeats, a two-time junior world champion who will compete in the 69-kg class.
  • Erica Wiebe of Stittsville, Ont., a three-time national champ who beat a pair of Olympic medallists to win last year's Poland Open and will wrestle in the 75-kg division.
  • David Tremblay of Stoney Point, Ont., a two-time Canadian champ who made his Olympic debut in London and will compete at 57 kg.
  • Korey Jarvis, a 125-kilogramer from Elliot Lake, Ont., who won Commonwealth silver at 96 kg in Delhi and owns a pair of national titles.

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