Canadian wrestling team announced

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June 24, 2013, Ottawa (CIS) – Canadian Interuniversity Sport, in conjunction with Wrestling Canada, announced Monday the student-athletes who will represent the country in wrestling at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia.

Wrestling returns to the world university games for the first time since 2005 in Izmir, Turkey, when female wrestlers made their Universiade debut. Male student-athletes had previously competed in the sport in 1973 (Moscow), 1977 (Sofia, Bulgaria) and 1981 (Bucharest, Romania).

The Canadian women made the most of their first-ever FISU Games appearance eight years ago when six of seven team members reached the podium in freestyle events, including gold medals for Carol Huynh (48kg) and Ohenewa Akuffo (72kg), silver for Lyndsay Belisle (51kg) and Tonya Verbeek (55kg), as well as third-place finishes for Breanne Graham (59kg) and Stefanie Howorun (67kg).

Clark Davis, who claimed freestyle silver at 90 kilograms in 1981, remains the lone male wrestler to win a Universiade medal for Canada.

The women’s roster heading to Kazan is comprised of Natasha Kramble of Saskatoon (48kg), Diana Ford of Kentville, N.S. (51 kg), Jillian Gallays of Saskatoon (55kg), Danielle Lappage of Olds, Alta. (63kg), Stacie Anaka of Coquitlam, B.C. (67kg) and Erica Wiebe of Stittsville, Ont. (72 kg). One female athlete will be added at a later date in the 59kg weight class.

The men’s lineup includes Steven Takahashi of London, Ont. (55kg), Mike Asselstine of Edmonton (60kg), Brian Hutton of Calgary (66kg), Shawn Daye-Finley of Halifax (74kg) and Jordan Steen of Ottawa (84kg).

Summer Universiade website: www.kazan2013.com/en

Team Canada website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/universiade/summer/2013

All will compete in freestyle events.

On the women’s side, all team members have previously represented Canada on the international stage, with great success.

Kramble won silver at 48kg at the 2013 Pan Am championships; Ford placed ninth at 51kg at the 2009 junior world championships; Gallays finished eighth at 55kg at both the 2008 world championships and the 2010 World Cup; Lappage captured 63kg gold at the 2010 junior worlds and bronze at the 2012 FISU world university championships; Anaka, who is currently seventh in the FILA world rankings, claimed gold at the 2013 Pan Am championships (67kg), bronze at the 2007 junior worlds (63kg), and placed 12th at 72kg at the 2012 senior worlds and eighth at the 2012 FISU championships; Wiebe won gold at 72kg at the 2011 Commonwealth championships, silver at the 2012 FISU championships, bronze at the 2013 Pan Am championships and also competed at the junior worlds in 2008 and 2009.

Kramble, Gallays and Wiebe are all current senior national champions. At the university level, all team members, with the exception of Kramble, have won CIS gold over their career, including each of the past three seasons for Ford.

On the men’s side, Takahashi is the only athlete with significant international experience. A CIS gold medallist each of his three years at Western University, he claimed bronze at 55kg at the 2011 Pan Am Games and finished fifth at the 2012 FISU championships. He also captured a senior national title in 2012.

Steen (2013) and Daye-Finley (2011) have also won CIS gold in recent years. Steen was named CIS male rookie of the year for Concordia this past season.

A six-member support staff will accompany the Canadian athletes in Kazan.

Verbeek returns to the Universiade as one of four coaches, along with Owen Dawkins, Shane Bradley and Don Ryan. Rounding out the staff are John Dawson (team leader) and Bertrand Bélanger (medical).

Verbeek is the most decorated Canadian wrestler in history with three Olympic medals, including silver in 2004 and 2012, and bronze in 2008. The former Brock University standout now coaches at her alma mater and was recently hired by Wrestling Canada as talent identification coach.

Dawkins is the reigning CIS coach of the year in men’s competition after leading his Alberta Golden Bears to their first national team title since 1972. He was a silver medallist at the 1998 Pan Am championships and barely missed the podium at the 2000 FISU championships, finishing fourth.

The freestyle wrestling competition in Kazan is set for July 11 to 14.

NOTES: Steven Takahashi’s father, Ray, represented Canada in wrestling at the 1976 and 1984 Olympics, the 1982 and 1983 world championships, the 1983 Pan Am Games and the 1978 Commonwealth Games, where he claimed gold in the flyweight division. A fourth-place finisher at the 1984 Olympics, he was inducted into the Canadian Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1991.

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