With 13 martial arts and combat sports packed into one event, the first SportAccord World Combat Games has something to offer those into kicks, punches, holds and takedowns.
But for Yukoners in Beijing, China, this week for the event, there was only one place to be on Wednesday: the women’s wrestling 55-kilogram final.
Still fresh off a tournament win in Poland, Watson Lake’s Brittanee Laverdure remained in the winning circle, defeating Japan’s Chikako Matsukawa 3-1, 1-1, 1-1 in the final to capture gold.
“It was cool to be at the Combat Games,” wrote Laverdure in an e-mail to the News. “There were so many different combat sport athletes that you don’t normally see as only four Olympic events were included (boxing, taekwondo, wrestling, and judo). I got to see sumo and muay tai. As well as a competitor from Calgary that is the reigning world grappling champion.
“Usually at big competitions the wrestlers are the ones walking around looking a little beat up, but we kind of fit in with the group with our bumps and bruises and bulging biceps.”
After being on the wrong end of a takedown in the first game of the finals, Laverdure came back to win the next two, scoring the final point for the win at the buzzer - it was so close judges had to use a video replay to determine if the point was scored in time.
“I could see that she was getting frustrated that she wasn’t scoring off her attempts,” wrote Laverdure. “In the third and final round, she again scored early. I waited until the dying seconds to secure my point and we definitely fought tooth and nail for it. It was a close match, I just maintained my composure and tried to remain focused.”
To reach the finals Laverdure won three straight matches against wrestlers from the US, Poland and Kazakhstan, all of which took place the morning before the finals in the afternoon.
“In my pool I wrestled well, and eliminated opportunities for my opponents to score,” wrote Laverdure. “The toughest part was having three matches in the morning session almost back to back. I actually like wrestling like that because you stay warm, and don’t have time to think too much because you have to be ready for your next one.”
Attended by 1,108 athletes from five continents, the World Combat Games, which end Saturday, is an example of a growing trend in multi-sport events. Some better known examples of this is the World Aquatic Games, which features both swimming and diving, and the X-Games that feature a plethora of extreme sports. SportAccord is planning to introduce two more multi-sport events in the coming years, The Mind Games in 2011 and the World Beach Games in 2012. The next Combat Games are expected to take place in 2013 at a location yet to be determined.
“I think the Games are going to grow!” wrote Laverdure. “Especially with the popularity of grappling, etcetera. Personally, I wouldn’t like getting kicked in the head but people seem to like it. I’m going to stick to my sport where we don’t really hurt each other. I did enjoy watching some of the other sports and the culture around it.”
In the first week of August, Laverdure won her class at the Polish Open in Spala, Poland, defeating a wrestler that defeated her at the British Cup the month before.
In October 2008, she won a bronze at the World Championships in Tokyo, Japan - but not immediately. It was weeks after the event when Laverdure moved up from fourth to the bottom podium tier after the original bronze winner was caught doping.
More recently she came second at the Canada Cup International at the start of July. In February, she was first overall at the Dave Shultz International in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Just before that, she won her weight-class at the Men’s and Women’s Freestyle Wrestling Tournament hosted by the University of Guelph in Ontario.
Last year she defended her Canadian Senior Nationals title in Regina, Saskatchewan. She also won the CIS National Championships in 2005 and in 2006, winning her the University of Calgary’s athlete of the year award in 2006.
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