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Di Stasio, Dhesi lead Canada's wrestling team into Olympic Games

Canada's Justina di Stasio , left, fights Hannah Amuchechi Rueben from Nigeria in women's 76 kg freestyle wrestling competition at the Commonwealth Games in Coventry, England on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. World champion Di Stasio and veteran Amar Dhesi will lead Canada's wrestling team into the Olympic Games in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

TORONTO — World champion Justina Di Stasio and veteran Amar Dhesi will lead Canada's wrestling team into the Olympic Games in Paris.

Ana Godinez Gonzalez of Burnaby, B.C., Montreal's Alex Moore, Linda Morais of Tecumseh, Ont., and Hannah Taylor of Summerside, P.E.I. join Dhesi of Surrey, B.C., and Di Stasio of Coquitlam, B.C., on the team announced Tuesday by the Canadian Olympic Committee.

Di Stasio captured a world title in the women's 72-kilogram division in 2018, as well as Pan American Games gold in 2019 and Commonwealth Games gold in 2022.

The 31-year-old took a break from wrestling during the COVID-19 pandemic to start her career as a teacher, but returned to the sport to make her Olympic debut in Paris.

Dhesi, 28, is the only Canadian wrestler with previous Olympic experience after placing 13th in Tokyo.

The member of the Vancouver Police Department claimed 125-kg gold in both the 2022 Pan American Championship and Commonwealth Games.

“Trying to find the words to express the feeling of representing my country, my community and my family at my second Olympic Games has been tough, but I keep coming back to the word grateful," Dhesi said in a statement.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to be in a position once again to have a chance to bring back an Olympic medal. I fell short in Tokyo but am prepared to be courageous and ready to bring the fight."

Godinez Gonzalez won the women's 62-kilogram class at the 2021 world under-23 championship and Commonwealth Games silver the following year.

Moore competes in the men's 62-kg division, Morais in the women's 68-kg class and Taylor in women's 57 kg.

Morais, 30, won a world title in the women's 59 kg in 2019.

The athletes won their respective weight classes at December's national trials in Edmonton. Taylor, Godinez Gonzalez, Di Stasio, Moore and Dhesi then punched their tickets to Paris in a Pan American qualifier in Mexico in March.

Morais claimed her Paris berth in a qualification tournament earlier this month in Turkey.

Team Canada has won 17 Olympic wrestling medals dating back to London 1908. Three were gold: Erica Wiebe (2016), Carol Huynh (2008) and Daniel Igali (2000).

"All four of our women wrestlers have each won medals on the world stage, including three of them who have all held world titles," said Wrestling Canada high-performance director Chris Woodcroft.

"We look forward to our athletes showing their mettle in an effort to gain some medals.”

Olympic wrestling will be held Aug. 5-11 at the Champ-de-Mars Arena.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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