New international rules, a new weight-class and a bad nosebleed could not keep Brittanee Laverdure from regaining national champion status.
The Watson Lake wrestler returned to competition after eight months away to win gold at the 2014 Senior National Championships in Edmonton, Alta., on March 22.
“I was excited,” Laverdure told the News in an email. “I kept everything low stress. Although I had expectations, I never stressed about it this time around. I had taken time off competing so was a bit rejuvenated.”
Laverdure received a bye in the first round and defeated three straight opponents for the gold. The 32-year-old, who competes out of the Dinos Wrestling Club in Calgary, shutout her first two opponents 11-0 before the final.
Laverdure took the gold with a 9-3 win over New Brunswick’s Samantha Stewart, but struggled with a nosebleed after rising to a 9-0 lead.
“I was hoping to tech her (win automatically through the accumulation of points) but had to pull back a bit on offensive since my nose was bleeding so bad and I was using up a lot of my blood time,” said Laverdure, referring to the time given to competitors to stop bleeding from an injury.
The win produced Laverdure’s first national title since 2009 when she won in the 55-kilogram weight class.
Edmonton marked the first time she competed in the 53-kilogram class, a new weight-class introduced this year in a move by sport’s governing body to refresh wrestling after it was nearly eliminated from the 2020 Olympics.
“I was at 55 kilograms and struggled maintaining size,” said Laverdure. “Now I feel perfect at 53 kilograms, it fits my body size better. Nationals was my first time competing at the weight. I was just very disciplined on my eating and made sure everything was super healthy going in so I didn’t have a lot more weight to lose.”
Laverdure finished third in the 55-kilogram division at last year’s championship, placing behind Brianne Barry, who placed third this year in the 53-kilo. She then took time off to recover from shoulder surgery and focus on her career as a lawyer.
“Last year I lost in a three-round decision to the champion, but I never skipped a beat,” said Laverdure. “Four days after nationals I had a shoulder surgery to clean up some wear and tear and had a down year.
“I stayed really fit and was training, but I just turned 32 so I pick and choose my competitions. When I was younger I would fly to any and every tournament but now I’m selective. I also have to juggle my new career as a lawyer, which is not as forgiving with deadlines. For example, instead of going with the Canadian team to the Olympic training centre in February, I juniored a civil trial with my boss, a former Olympic wrestler himself. I actually like training at home because I have more control over the training conditions.”
In addition to new weight-classes, FILA – the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles – has introduced new rules to make the sport more spectator friendly.
Within the new rules wrestlers are rewared for aggressive techniques, given two points for takedowns instead of one. Longer rounds allow for wrestlers to use more strategy in the bouts.
“I am just super excited and feel excited about the sport,” said Laverdure. “We had some good rule changes, making the rounds more action packed. I’m taking everything one step at a time hoping to make some major Games.”
Laverdure has twice earned the position as first-alternate for Canada’s Olympic wrestling team. In October 2008, Laverdure won a bronze at the world championships in Tokyo. In 2009 she captured her second Canadian senior title. In the summer of 2010, she took gold at the World Combat Games in Beijing, China. A few months later Laverdure won gold at the World University Championships in the 55-kilogram class. She placed fifth at the 2012 FILA Women Wrestling World Championships for 55-kilogram.
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