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Watson Lake wrestler first alternate for Olympics

'A bridesmaid again," said Brittanee Laverdure, right off the bat. For the second Olympic Games in a row, the Watson Lake wrestler is first-alternate in her weight class for Canada's Olympic team.

‘A bridesmaid again,” said Brittanee Laverdure, right off the bat.

For the second Olympic Games in a row, the Watson Lake wrestler is first-alternate in her weight class for Canada’s Olympic team. Laverdure finished second, missing the one available spot at the 2012 Canadian Olympic Trials at the University of Winnipeg’s Duckworth Centre on Saturday.

“I’m not going to say I’m happy, I don’t really know how I feel right now,” said Laverdure in an interview with the News from a vacation spot in Florida.

“I had really good preparation going into it. I finished law school in April and basically this was the first time I was back to full-time training - full-time without major commitments like law school or full-time work - since 2008.

“I made a lot of improvements and got back into really good physical shape.”

Having finished second at the Canadian National Wrestling Championships in March, Laverdure had a bye to the 55-kilogram semi-final on Saturday. There she met Saskatoon’s Jillian Gallays, whom Laverdure pinned in the third round.

The win advanced Laverdure to the final where all the chips were on the table in a best-of-three match-up with Ontario’s Tonya Verbeek.


Laverdure lost in the second round in the first two matches.

“I felt good. I wrestled better than I had previously (against Verbeek),” said Laverdure. “I had a pretty good game plan going in and it just didn’t go my way.

“I wanted to be upset. But when I finished I still had a couple teammates wrestling so I just took four minutes to get myself together and then I came back to cheer on my teammates.”

Verbeek has been a thorn in Laverdure’s side for a while now. Verbeek defeated Laverdure at Nationals to go to the World Championships where she won silver. The same win over Laverdure sent Verbeek to the Pan-American Games for another silver.

Laverdure was also first-alternate for the 2008 Beijing Games thanks to Verbeek getting the ticket. Verbeek went on to capture bronze at the 2008 Games, adding to a silver from the 2004 Olympics.

There just isn’t much room for second.

“They only send one - that’s the thing about wrestling,” said Laverdure. “It’s all or none. It sucks because we’re all really good wrestlers.”

The national team member now has to decide whether it’s time to put her new law degree to work or continue to train in wrestling, which is a requirement if she accepts the position as first-alternate.

Encouraging her to stick with wrestling is the possibility Verbeek could get injured before the Games. She also sees London as her last chance at Olympic glory.

“It’s unfortunate. I’m an alternate and we’ll see how that plays out,” said Laverdure. “It’s a big training commitment and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I don’t plan on wrestling four more years.

“I wanted to end with the Olympics, but we’ll see what my last tournament is. My coach wants me to end with the world (championships) because they are in Edmonton next September.

“I’m not sure right now ... I still have to become a lawyer at some point.”

Either way, Laverdure hopes to return to the Yukon and put on a camp for the territory’s wrestling team before the upcoming Arctic Winter Games in March.

“It’s the full circle thing - you have to give back,” said Laverdure. “I went to the Arctic Winter Games when I was a young pup. I’ve been helped so much along the way, so if they want to do a camp or they need any assistance, let me know.”

In 2009, she captured her second Canadian Senior Nationals title. She also took gold at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport National Championships in 2005 and in 2006, winning her the University of Calgary’s Athlete of the Year award in 2006.

In October 2008, Laverdure won a bronze at the World Championships in Tokyo, Japan, but not immediately. Weeks after the event, she moved up from fourth to the bottom podium tier after the original bronze winner was caught doping.

In the summer of 2010, she took gold at the SportAccord World Combat Games in Beijing, China. A few months later Laverdure won gold at the World University Championships in the 55-kilogram class.

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