Watson Lake wrestler wins Polish Open

Brittanee Laverdure's latest victory on the wrestling mat wasn't just about winning a title. It was about redemption.

Brittanee Laverdure’s latest victory on the wrestling mat wasn’t just about winning a title. It was about redemption.

The Watson Lake wrestler’s recent solid-gold performance in the 55-kilogram class of the Polish Open in Spala Poland, wiped away lingering memories of a disappointing seventh-place finish at the Great Britain Cup in mid-July.

The national team wrestler can now make a solid argument she could have done better in England – after all, she won her first match in Poland against the country’s Sylwia Bilenska, a finalist at the British cup.

“I knew I should have been in the finals (in Britain), but I made some mistakes early in the tournament,” said Laverdure. “She scored on me in the second period, but I don’t think she would score on me with that move again – I didn’t know she had it in her repertoire.”

In her second match, the only one not to go to three periods with a score of 1-0, 4-0, Laverdure defeated the Czech Republic’s Martinakova Lenka.

“I pinned her in Colorado and sometimes when you pin someone, you don’t know if you just caught them,” said Laverdure. “She’s strong, but I got a couple turns on her and felt good about that.”

The 28-year-old Yukoner, who is about to start her final year of law school in Calgary, met Russia’s Maria Gurova in the final, coming back to win after losing the opening period.

In the second period, after no one scored in the two minutes, they went to a clinch, with Gurova’s colour getting drawn, giving her the advantage to start the bonus 30-seconds grasping Laverdure’s leg. However, by preventing Gurova from scoring with the advantage, Laverdure took the second period 1-0.

“She has my leg, so I’m on the defence, I actually got out of it, she didn’t score and I won the period,” said Laverdure. “The onus is on her because she was given the advantage.

“So I got out of that and I could tell she was kind of defeated, like, ‘Oh my gosh, how did I not win this match?’”

Laverdure scored a single point on a one-leg take-down in the third period. She was then awarded another point for a 2-0 win in the third when the coach of the Russian unsuccessfully challenged the take-down ruling.

“I would say she out-wrestled me in the first period,” said Laverdure. “Then I was more strategic and took the second period. I won the third period, probably based on my fitness. She was starting to fade.”

Her gold in Poland is just the latest accomplishment in her 14-year wrestling career.

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.

“I would love to medal again at the World Championships and, ideally, make the Olympic team,” said Laverdure. “I’m just trying to finish off law school – I finish in April – and then I’ll just train for the Olympic trials.”

At the end of this month, Laverdure will be on her way to the first-ever World Combat Games in Beijing, China. Not unlike the World Aquatic Championships, in which swimming and diving competitions are held together, the Combat Games will include various martial art competitions along with wrestling. Laverdure will be competing on September 1 before returning to Whitehorse for a hunting trip.

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