Watson Lake wrestler Brittanee Laverdure pinned her first gold medal of the year at the Canada Cup this past weekend in Guelph, Ontario.
The 30-year-old won the women’s 55-kilogram class at the biggest summer event on Canada’s wrestling calendar.
In addition to her competition, Laverdure had to deal with 30-degree temperatures in the gym at the University of Guelph’s Mitchell Athletics Centre.
“It was really hot,” said Laverdure. “We were there for 12 hours. Mine was the last match of the finals.”
Laverdure’s first match was against Ontario’s Brianne Barry. When the two faced off at the Canadian championships in March, Lavendure walked away with silver, beating Barry, who took bronze.
With those national finishes, the Guelph match determined who got the first-alternate spot for Team Canada at the World Wrestling Championships this September in Edmonton.
Laverdure took the match, and the first-alternate position, in two rounds.
“She’s a tactical wrestler,” said Laverdure of Barry. “You have to be safe because she also has a judo background so she has different things in her repertoire.”
After winning her second match in two rounds, Laverdure had her closest challenge in the final against New Brunswick’s Samantha Stewart.
Stewart won the first round 5-0, but that was like water off a duck’s back for Laverdure.
“The next round I almost pinned her and won 6-1,” said Laverdure, who won the third round 3-1.
“I felt really confident the second and third period,” she said. “I probably hadn’t wrestled her in two or three years, so she caught me and totally beat me in the first period. But I was cool, calm and collected and out-wrestled her. I just got caught in the first period.”
With the win in her opening match, Laverdure now has two first-alternate positions for major competitions.
For the second Olympic Games in a row, Laverdure 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 in December.
Laverdure missed the spot on the Olympic team with a loss to Ontario’s Tonya Verbeek, who also defeated Laverdure for gold at the nationals in March.
Verbeek has been a thorn in Laverdure’s side for a while now. She defeated Laverdure at last year’s 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 her silver from the 2004 Olympics.
In 2009, Laverdure captured her second Canadian Senior Nationals title. She also took gold at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport National Championships in 2005 and in 2006, winning 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.
Laverdure is not the only Yukoner heading to the London Olympics on Team Canada.
Fellow Watson Laker Zach Bell is on Canada’s men’s cycling team and will be competing in the omnium track event.
Whitehorse’s Jeane Lassen is an alternate for Canada’s weightlifting team.
“It wasn’t as big this year because everyone is practicing for the Olympics,” said Laverdure of the Canada Cup. “Normally our Olympians would be in it .. (but few were) because we’re so close to the Olympics.”
Laverdure is competing at the Spanish Grand Prix event this weekend in Madrid.
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