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The Future Is Bright For Three Champion Wrestlers

Darpan, 05 Feb, 2014
  • The Future Is Bright For Three Champion Wrestlers

When the word “wrestling” is introduced into a conversation about legitimate athletes and sports, some may imagine the “wrestlers” of the WWE. Certainly some gifted people, put on stage to entertain the masses. Granted they are quite charismatic, talented, and high-flying men; however, they must not to be confused with the determined, physically and mentally strong athletes on the competition mat of freestyle wrestlers.

The drive for competition and the determination to have a bright future has captured the interest of three local 18-year-old, South Asian wrestlers, Gurdeep Beesla, Manjot Sandhu, and Gurjot Kooner. The bright future glitters of course as winners of gold medals at the 2012 Olympics. Their road to this coveted bling is one of hard work and discipline. Beesla notes, “We train and take our path for competing in the Olympics seriously.  We train at least 30 hours a week. This means we train at least six days a week that includes weights, cardio, and wrestling practice. We also do physiotherapy and swimming to help our muscles recover.”

All three athletes are friends, enrolled in University or College, and have similar backgrounds.   Their upbringing is so alike because each has had family members like fathers, brothers, or uncles who themselves were athletes in their own respective sports in India and Canada. Sandhu notes,” Two of my uncles were in weightlifting in India and Canada. One of them received the highest accolade for athleticism in India called the ‘Arjun Award’.” Having positive role models in their lives has fostered an environment of motivation to create a love for the game while creating an understanding that playing sports offers fundamental life skills. Each athlete started their path to the success of wrestling at the eatrly age of 10 when they respectively joined different wrestling clubs. Kooner notes, “Our involvement with a wrestling club early on enabled us to learn skills that helped our development and motivated us to become better people, both on and off the mat.” Beesla notes, “Our coaches from day one were very supportive and kept us wanting to excel at our sport. We thank our coaches and our families for helping us become not only better competitors, but definitely, better people.”

When asked if they have encountered any racial discrimination within their sport, Kooner, who wears a patka, notes, “I had one experience at the Junior Wrestling Championship where they asked me to remove my patka before getting on the mat. I refused and walked to the mat area and continued – no one is going to stop me or us from being a part of our sport because we may look different. We are personally strong enough to be confident with our culture and religion and its role within our lives – wrestling is our sport and we are determined to only be focused on that aspect of our life when we are wrestling.” All three athletes are cognizant of being respectful with their religion and include it within their lives by attending the Gurdwara and before a match paying respects to their training facilities. All three athletes adamantly note, “The Indian community is very supportive and we are very thankful for their encouragement. Perhaps it is because wrestling is a focal point in India, but when we are at a tournament people are overjoyed to see us participating and offer us their cheers. The fact that we are representing not only Canada, but also the South Asian community as a whole, is a privilege and one that we take very seriously.”

The athletes have a busy, long road to the 2012 Olympics. With the summer fast approaching and school finishing up for the term, the young men are concentrating fully on training. “We have four summer camps this year to prepare for the World Championships – we are off to Iran, Toronto, Colorado, and then back home at Burnaby Mountain.”  Their advice to aspiring athletes and their parents is simple: “South Asian youth need to stay in school and get into sports. Pick any sport – it does not have to be wrestling, just anything, you love to do. Set daily goals; be close to your family. You have the ability to decide what path you will take in your life; therefore, choose the one that will enable you to become a better person. Being an athlete takes time and discipline – that provides no opportunity to get into bad things. Instead work hard and study hard. Some advice for parents includes, be supportive of your child’s extracurricular activities, be proud of them, motivate them, because these skills are the stepping stones to becoming a better person.”

Gurdeep Beesla

·         18 years old

·         Weight Class – 120 kg

·         Attending Simon Fraser University – studying Kinesiology

·         Khalsa Wrestling Club

·         Coaches – Garfield Gairy and Balbir Dhesi

·         2 time BC Championship Winner

·         2 time National Championship Winner

·         4 time Silver National Winner

·         Silver Pan America Championship Winner

·         2nd Place at Las Vegas Championship

·         Canada Cup

Manjot Sandhu

·         18 years old

·         Weight Class – 84 kg

·         Douglas College

·         Khalsa Wrestling Club

·         Coaches – Garfield Gairy and Balbir Dhesi

·         2 time BC High Schools Championship Winner

·         4 time National Championship Winner

·         Gold Pan America Championship Winner

·         Canada Cup

·         2008 BC Athlete of the Year

Gurjot Kooner

·         18 years old

·         Weight Class –96 kg

·         Simon Fraser University

·         Miri Piri Wrestling Club

·         Coaches – Sucha Mann

·         2 time BC High Schools Championship Winner

·         5 time National Championship Winner

·         Canada Cup

·         Pacific Sport Athlete Award

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