Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. Parliament Hill Ottawa. A Wordpress Production


Canada Silver Men’s Free Skate

patrick chan silver medalist mens free skate

A smart ass comment went across Twitter about Patrick today …

“That he had the Gold medal on a platter, and he took the platter.”

People did not like that at all, especially from the person who dished out the insult.

Patrick has always been the underdog. For many years, his skating was not stellar all the time. And wins were hit and miss, however successful he has become going into the games. He has struggled and that is nothing new.

Sometimes he had it when it counted, and other times, he just could not cut a break. Skating is a cumulative sport. You build and you grow. You get confident with your skating and you do well. It just seems to me that another Olympics and Patrick came in second.

Even without Russian star power, the gold was up for grabs. I have been a watcher of skating for a long time.

We got a medal at least, Silver was the best we could get this time around.

We shouldn’t be so harsh on our athletes, because only the best make it this far to prove what they have on the world stage. And I wonder if Patrick left some of his umph in the locker room.

Well done Patrick. You did your best.

Silver in men’s 1,000M speed skating

denny morrison

SOCHI, Russia — Long-track speed skater Denny Morrison has won a silver medal in the men’s 1,000 metres at the Sochi Olympics.

The native of Fort St. John, B.C., finished in one minute 8.43 seconds, just four one-hundredths of a second behind winner Stefan Groothuis of the Netherlands.

Michel Mulder, also of the powerful Dutch team, finished third.

Tuesday Gold and Silver Women’s freestlye slopestyle

medal-ceremony-winter-olympics-day-20140211-165447-604 kim lamarre bronze wom freestlye slopestyle

Kim Lamarre Bronze-women’s Freestlye-slopestyle

medal-ceremony-winter-olympics-day-20140211-170152-150 dara howell gold kim lamarre bronze freestyleski and slopestyle

Dara Howell Gold and Kim Lamarre Bronze Freestyleski-and-slopestyle

medal-ceremony-winter-olympics-day-20140211-170347-385 dara howell gold wom freestyle ski slopestyle

Dara Howell Gold women’s Freestyle-ski-slopestyle


Courtesy:Getty Images

Monday Medal Haul …

freestyle-skiing-winter-olympics-day-20140210-202248-596 alex bilodeau Gold mens moguls


40112_G08_W01 alex frederic

Alexandre and Frederic Bilodeau Celebrate Gold at Sochi


medal-ceremony-winter-olympics-day-20140211-165813-089 alexandre mikael gikd silver mens moguls

Canada’s Alex-Bilodeau- Gold Men’s Moguls


freestyle-skiing-winter-olympics-day-20140210-193248-091 mikael kingsbury silver

Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury Silver Medalist Men’s Moguls

20140210_jla_am8_251-89c01974c9f444a4f99db86c39ee0283 charles hemailn gold mes short track speedskating 1500 m

Canada’s Charles Hamelin – Gold Men’s short-track-speedskating-1500-m


Silver medalists Kaetlyn Osmond, Patrick Chan, Kevin Reynolds, Meagan Duhamel, Eric Radford, Kirsten Moore-Towers, Dylan Moscovitch, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada celebrate during the medal ceremony for the Team Figure Skating Overall on day 3 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Medals Plaza in the Olympic Park on February 10, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

All images Courtesy: Getty Images

Celebrating 12 years of Sobriety

tumblr_mvr218HsTv1rsipmuo1_500 walterjenkel2013

Courtesy: copyright image Walter Jenkel

It is a frigid night. Much colder than we have seen as of late. We are sitting at (-19c /-23wc) . We are under a weather warning for the rest of the weekend, with snow fall around 15 plus cm.

With it being Friday the 13th … I took every precaution to make sure that tonight’s festivities would go off without a hitch. I texted my bud late last night to make sure he packed for the meeting, since we were meeting up before and that he wasn’t going home to NDG before meeting us. It would have been too much to go all the way out to NDG and back.

We arrived early and helped set up the room along with the folks who were there already. I noticed tonight that a fellow I have been following for a long while is looking really good these past two weeks. He’s engaged and doing service. Always a good sign.

It was a full house. All of my friends were there. And several folks came just because it was my cake night to see me and to share in the night.

As always reading from A.B.S.I. and #31  In God’s Economy

“In God’s economy, nothing is wasted. Through failure, we learn a lesson in humility which is probably needed, painful though it is.”

I heard a lot of good things. And before we knew it, the hour was up.

Folks are learning to live life on life’s terms and to accept their part in just how bad their disease got them and how deep in a hole they were in before they came to and started recovery. It was good.

At the end of the meeting my bud got up and shared a bit about us, it’s been a little more than 2 1/2 years we’ve been friends. And you never know when something you might say to someone, given the opportunity, will change their lives. And save them.

Tonight I have a bright shiny twelve year medallion on my key chain.


It seems one night – the time was right – and the opportunity was there – and I shared a bit, and it changed his whole life journey.

I don’t remember. But he does.

This year was all about presence and newcomers. If it wasn’t for my friends, I would not be here for sure.

Reach out, lend a hand, engage your friends, and speak, use words if necessary. You never know one day that something you might share may save a life.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…

The Hands of the Mother


Grace …

For many years now Mother Teresa has been a staple in my prayers and meditation. When I turned ten years, my two year medallion was gold dipped and engraved with the words: “I Thirst.”

From her Memoirs – Come Be My Light where she talks about Thirsting for Jesus as he thirsted from the cross.

That same week I got my first tattoo. Those same words, “I Thirst” translated into Hebrew. And is now on my arm.

This weekend we heard a woman speak at the Dorval Round Up.

And this woman, walked, talked, worked and lived with Mother Teresa. And in the end she was asked to testify for the Beatification of Mother Teresa.

At the end of her share on Saturday night, I stood in line and I grasped her hands and thanked her graciously. We all did.

And tonight it is a Pivotal Moment in my sobriety. After all my prayers, adoration and love Mother came to me, and to us.

We touched the hands of the woman who touched the hands of Mother Teresa.

She has come full circle.

I will never be the same man from here on out.

Canada Enjoys 3-Medal Performance on Day 8

The Canadian Press

LONDON – Rosie MacLennan sang along, trying to hold back tears, as “O Canada” was played for the first time at the London Olympics.

She had just been through a excruciating 10-minute wait to see if her dazzling women’s trampoline routine would hold up against two seasoned veterans from China. It wasn’t until defending champion He Wenna stumbled at the end of her routine that MacLennan knew she had clinched Canada’s first gold medal at these Games.

“It’s exciting and honestly it’s still a bit surreal,” MacLennan said.

And the excitement continued. With Ryan Cochrane ‘s silver in the men’s 1,500-metre freestyle and a bronze on the cycling track in women’s pursuit, it was clear Canada had its Olympic swagger back.

Canada remained solidly on track to finish top 12 in total medals in London. Through eight days Canada has 10 medals — one gold, three silver and six bronze — and sits 11th in the overall standings.

Saturday’s medal hat trick came at a pivotal time as the Games reached its halfway point. Canada had performed well, but the coveted gold medal remained elusive heading into Day 8 in London. And the optimistic mood from a string of early successes was in danger of turning sour after a disappointing Day 7 saw three medal hopefuls come up short.

It looked like it might be another rough day when Edmonton’s Paula Findlay placed last among finishers in women’s triathlon. A heartbroken Findlay was in tears as she crossed the finish line, repeatedly saying “I’m sorry.”

But as MacLennan’s soaring routine earned her a personal-best score of 57.305, the country’s Olympic future looked brighter.

“I was shocked. It’s the biggest score that I’ve ever gotten,” MacLennan said. “I knew it would be a tough one to catch. But you never want to get ahead of yourself. You want to wait until all the competitors are done.”

Teammate Karen Cockburn turned to MacLennan and told her that her score was a winner.

MacLennan wasn’t so sure.

“I didn’t want to get too ahead of myself,” the native of King City, Ont., said.

But Chinese favourites Huang Shanshan and He couldn’t reach the impressive bar set by MacLennan, and Canada topped the podium for the first time in London. Huang and He won silver and bronze respectively.

Cockburn, from Stouffville, Ont., just missed adding to her trophy case with a fourth-place finish. She had won medals in the last three Olympics.

Instead it was MacLennan’s time in the spotlight as she vastly improved on her seventh-place finish at the 2008 Beijing Games.

“Rosie was really strong, her score was huge,” Cockburn said. “The other gymnasts could feel the heat after her score. I wasn’t really surprised that she won. We pushed each other hard in training, I’m really happy for her.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper congratulated MacLennan in a statement.

“Through her hard work, dedication and sportsmanship, Rosie has proudly represented Canada on the world stage,” he said.

Canada’s best day so far in London continued when Cochrane took silver in the gruelling men’s 1,500 freestyle, giving Canada at least two swimming medals for the first time since the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Cochrane, who won bronze in the event two years ago, held off defending Olympic champion Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia and finished in a personal-best time of 14 minutes 39.63 seconds.

“It was a tough fight the last 100 metres,” Cochrane said. “I was going to fight, probably to the death, to make sure he didn’t get his hand on the wall first.”

Cochrane was certainly happy to win a medal, but he said he had his sights set higher.

“It’s a double-edge sword because I wanted to be vying for that world record,” he said. “I wanted to be five seconds faster. I think I did underestimate how hard the mental side of this meet would be.”

China’s Sun Yang beat his own world record to claim gold in 14:31.02.

On the cycling track, Tara Whitten of Edmonton, Gillian Carleton of Victoria and Jasmin Glaesser of Coquitlam, B.C., finished the team pursuit bronze-medal race in three minutes 17.915 seconds. Australia was timed in 3:18.096.

“We knew it was going to be a battle,” Glaesser said. “We know they start off fast but we knew it was going to come down to the last lap. It was a challenge but we were 100 per cent committed to do our best.”

Britain won gold in a world-record time of 3.14.051. The United States took silver.

In other Canadian results:

— Jessica Zelinka of London, Ont., finished sixth overall in women’s heptathlon. Brianne Theisen of Humboldt, Sask., finished 10th.

— Cameron Levins of Campbell River, B.C., finished 11th in the men’s 10,000 metres. Mohammed Ahmed of St. Catharines, Ont., finished 18th.

— Toronto natives Alex Bruce and Michelle Li fell 21-9, 21-10 to Russia to finish fourth in women’s doubles badminton.

— Canada’s men’s table tennis team fell to Japan 3-0 in a first-round match.

— Zach Bell of North Vancouver, B.C., was ninth overall after the first day of the men’s track cycling omnium.

— Justyn Warner of Markham, Ont., advanced to the men’s 100 semifinals with a third-place finish in his heat. His personal-best time of 10.09 seconds matched world record holder Usain Bolt — although Bolt easily won his heat.

— Melanie Blouin of Quebec City finished tied for ninth place with a result of 4.25 metres in her women’s pole vault group to miss out on Monday’s final.

— Jennifer Abel of Laval, Que., and Emilie Heymans of St-Lambert, Que., both advanced to the women’s three-metre springboard diving final. Abel was fourth in qualifying with 353.25 points while Heymans followed in eighth with 331.35.

— Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, Ont., had a clean run through the first qualifier to match 31 other riders at equestrian’s individual jumping competition. Ian Millar of Perth, Ont., knocked down one gate for four points. Jill Henselwood of Oxford Mills, Ont., also knocked down a gate and had a time penalty point for five, while Tiffany Foster, also of Schomberg, knocked down two gates for eight points.

The Olympic Gold Medalist

I captured a screen grab from the Vancouver Olympic Medal Ceremony tonight as Alexandre Bilodeau receives his Gold Medal in Men’s Moguls.

Well Done Alexandre…

Beijing Games come to a close

CBC Sports @ CBC.CA

Sixteen days, 204 countries, thousands of athletes, 43 world records and countless lasting memories.

The Beijing Games officially came to an end Sunday with the closing ceremony, as China said goodbye to the world with a spectacular show featuring fireworks, song and dance and the athletes themselves.

It was a fitting end to an Olympics that shone on China, a country with a poor record of human rights and where the government’s wariness of dissent and free speech has not wavered, but also a nation that opened itself to the world for these Games.

The International Olympic Committee, whose selection of Beijing as host in 2001 was widely criticized by the global community, said its choice had been vindicated.

“Tonight, we come to the end of 16 glorious days which we will cherish forever,” IOC president Jacques Rogge told the capacity crowd at the National Outdoor Stadium and the global TV audience.

“Through these Games, the world learned more about China, and China learned more about the world. These were truly exceptional Games,” Rogge said, before declaring the Olympics officially closed.

Liu Qi, the head of the Beijing organizing committee echoed Rogge’s sentiments, saying the Games were a “testimony to the fact that the world has rested its trust in China.”

Human rights groups disagreed

“The reality is that the Chinese government’s hosting of the Games has been a catalyst for abuses, leading to massive forced evictions, a surge in the arrest, detention and harassment of critics, repeated violations of media freedom, and increased political repression,” said Sophie Richardson of Human Rights Watch.

“Not a single world leader who attended the Games or members of the IOC seized the opportunity to challenge the Chinese government’s behaviour in any meaningful way.”

The closing ceremony also looked ahead, to the 2012 Games in London.

Rock musician Jimmy Page’s electric guitar seared through the Bird’s Nest Stadium as English pop star Leona Lewis sung the Led Zeppelin classic Whole Lotta Love. English soccer star David Beckham then emerged and kicked a soccer ball into a crowd of performers on the stadium floor.

Karen Cockburn, who won a silver medal in the women’s trampoline event, served as Canada’s flag-bearer, leading the Canadian contingent of athletes onto the stadium floor.

The Beijing Games marked Canada’s third-best performance at the Olympics — Canada won 22 medals in 1996 in Atlanta and 44 in 1984 in Los Angeles, which were boycotted by the Soviet Union and several Eastern Bloc countries.

“The Chinese have not only put on a great show tonight, they also did an excellent job overall. This was China’s Olympics, it was well-deserved, and it is effecting positive change here,” Canadian kayaker Adam van Koeverden told CBC Sports.

The show came to a close with a duet featuring Spanish tenor Placido Domingo and Chinese soprano Song Zuying, followed by a barrage of fireworks and confetti that filled the air.

Openly gay diver wins gold

By Maggie Hendricks- Fourth Place Medal

Diver Matthew Mitcham, the only openly gay male athlete in the Beijing Olympics, won gold in the 10m platform. He beat Chinese favorite Zhou Luxin by 4.8 points, preventing China from sweeping gold in diving events. Mitcham is the first Aussie to win diving gold since 1924, but that’s not the only thing that makes him a trailblazer.

He is hardly the first gay athlete to compete but he is one of the first to be out while competing. American diver Greg Louganis did not share his orientation until his diving career was over. To Mitcham, he is just living his life as a gay man and as a diver, and there is nothing extraordinary about that:

“Being gay and diving are completely separate parts of my life. Of course there’s going to be crossover because some people have issues, but everyone I dive with has been so supportive.”

Though he wants to be known as more than a gay man, the LGBT community is proud of their star. At OutSports, a sports Web site that focuses on the gay community, his win is front-page news. The Web site brings up a good question — will NBC mention Mitcham’s orientation during tonight’s broadcast?

To Mitcham, that doesn’t seem to matter. He has gold, and has reached his goals: “I’m happy with myself and where I am. I’m very happy with who I am and what I’ve done.”

UPDATE: NBC did not mention Mitcham’s orientation, nor did they show his family and partner who were in the stands. NBC has made athletes’ significant others a part of the coverage in the past, choosing to spotlight track athlete Sanya Richards‘ fiancee, a love triangle between French and Italian swimmers and Kerri Walsh‘s wedding ring debacle.

Photos via Getty Images

Teammates Lift Phelps to Record 8th Gold

By KAREN CROUSE – New York Times

BEIJING — With the help of his teammates on Sunday, Michael Phelps surpassed Mark Spitz, 36 years after Spitz’s record haul of seven gold medals at the Munich Games. The United States won the 4×100-meter medley relay in 3:29.34, a world record, for Phelps’ eighth gold medal of the Beijing Games.

Phelps swam the third — the butterfly — leg of the relay. His teammates were Aaron Peirsol (backstroke), Brendan Hansen (breaststroke) and Jason Lezak (freestyle).

How fabulous was Phelps’s feat? At Sunday’s start, Phelps would have ranked fourth in gold medals, ahead of all but 14 countries in the medal count. Every time Phelps dived into the water for a final here, the ripples extended into every corner of the Water Cube. On Friday, Andrew Lauterstein of Australia won the bronze medal in the 100 butterfly. Standing on the medals podium alongside Phelps, Lauterstein said he was thrilled to have had a cameo role in this recording of history.

Phelps had won his seventh gold medal on Saturday in dramatic fashion in the 100-meter butterfly, by out-touching Serbia’s Milorad Cavic.

Phelps was timed in 50.58, a personal best and an Olympic record. Cavic, a California-Berkeley graduate, was one-hundredth of a second behind. Phelps had caught Spitz by a whisker, tying Spitz’s record haul from the 1972 Munich Games and earning a $1 million bonus from Speedo, one of his sponsors.

With the win, he tied Spitz’s record of seven gold medals in one Olympics. His first six golds were all world records, but No. 7 came down to grit.

About two hours after the 100-meter butterfly, NBC’s Bob Costas interviewed Spitz, via satellite from Detroit, and Phelps, who was still poolside. Spitz said he had wondered what he would say at this monumental time.

“The word that comes to mind is epic,” Spitz said. “What you did tonight was epic, and it was epic for the whole world to see how great you really are.

“I never thought for one moment that you were out of that race,” he added. “That is a tribute to your greatness.”

Spitz went on to talk about role models, and how he admires Phelps not only for his swimming abilities, but also for the type of person he is.

“You weren’t born when I did what I did, and I’m sure I was a part of your inspiration, and I take that as a full compliment,” Spitz said. “They say that you judge one’s character by the company you keep, and I’m certainly happy to keep company with you.”

Phelps responded with admiration for Spitz, the man whose record he has been chasing for several years. In Athens four years ago, Phelps won six golds and two bronzes.

“There have been so many greats who have come before me, and what Mark did is still amazing,” he said. “It’s a very hard thing to accomplish. I think it shows whatever you put your mind to, you really can accomplish.

“When Mark won seven, he put his mind to something and he did everything he could to get there, and it’s the same thing with me.”


Phelps wins record 8th Olympic gold

CBC Sports @ CBC.CA

Michael Phelps has gone where no Olympian has gone before.

Phelps swam to his record eighth gold medal of the Beijing Games on Sunday, propelling the U.S. team to victory in the 4×100 medley relay.

With their 23-year-old star pushing them into the lead on the third (butterfly) leg, the Americans touched home in 3:29.34, breaking their own world record set in 2004 in Athens.

Australia took the silver and Japan the bronze.

Day 8 roundup: What the Canadians did

Canada’s Carol Huynh celebrates her gold medal on the shoulders of coach Leigh Vierling, left. (Ed Wray/Associated Press)

CBC Sports @ CBC.CA


Canada’s medal drought came to an end on Day 8 of the Beijing Games, with Canadian athletes winning three medals on Saturday.

Wrestler Carol Huynh, a 27-year-old native of Hazelton, B.C., won Canada’s first gold medal of the Games, winning the 48-kilogram freestyle weight class final over Japan’s Chiharu Icho by a score of 4-0 and 2-1.

“This is unbelievable,” she told CBC Sports following the medal ceremony. “I knew I wanted to go in with supreme confidence in my abilities, and not doubting myself one second. That’s what I did, and I wrestled the match of my life, and it was awesome.”

The men’s rowing pair of Dave Calder, from Victoria, and Scott Frandsen, from Kelowna, B.C., started the day by winning Canada’s first medal of the Olympics, claiming the silver on the water at Shunyi Olympic rowing park in Beijing.

“It was a tough race; we tried to ignore the fact that we haven’t had a medal yet as a country, and just focus on our two [kilometres],” Calder told CBC Sports after the race.

“We can come off the water knowing we had a great race,” said Frandsen.

Wrestler Tonya Verbeek won the second Olympic medal of her career and Canada’s third of the day.

The Beamsville, Ont., native won bronze in the 55-kilogram weight class, beating Ida-Theres Nerell of Sweden by a score of 1-0, 1-0 in one of two bronze medal matches.

Verbeek, 31, won silver at the 2004 Athens Summer Games, the first to include women’s freestyle wrestling.

She was smiling after the match, despite finishing one medal position below her 2004 Athens result. “I won a match to get the bronze and you’re losing a match to get the silver,” Verbeek said. “So it is a different feeling.”

More medals for Canada could be on the way, as three Canadians advanced to women’s and men’s trampoline finals next week.

Rosannagh MacLennan of King City, Ont., finished third and Karen Cockburn of Toronto fourth in the women’s preliminary round, while Toronto’s Jason Burnett finished seventh among the men.

The women’s final is Monday followed by the men Tuesday.

Blythe Hartley of Vancouver, B.C., qualified for the final of the women’s three-metre springboard, finishing 10th in Saturday’s semifinal with a total of 324.6 points from six dives.

The top 12 advanced to Sunday’s final. Jennifer Abel of Montreal just missed the cut, finishing 13th in 296.1.

In other notable Canadian results:

  • The Canadian baseball team lost 5-4 to the United States. With a 1-3 record, Canada must win its final three preliminary round contests to have any hope of reaching the semifinals.
  • Zach Bell of Watson Lake, Yukon, was seventh in the men’s points cycling race.
  • The men’s water polo team is now winless in four games after suffering a 13-7 loss to Greece.
  • Carline Muir of Toronto advanced to Sunday’s semifinals in the women’s 400 metres. The 20-year-old ran a personal best 51.55 seconds to finish third in her heat and move on.
  • Jessica Zelinka of London, Ont., finished sixth overall in the women’s heptathlon with 6,490 points, and had personal-best performances in four of the seven events which comprise the competition
  • Kelsie Hendry of Saskatoon failed to advance out of the qualifying round in the women’s pole vault. She cleared 4.3 metres, but missed on all three attempts at 4.4.

Wrestler Verbeek captures Canada's third medal

Canada’s Tonya Verbeek fights Otgonjargai Naidan of Mongolia during a match in the 55kg weight class of women’s wrestling at the Beijing Olympics. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

CBC Sports @ CBC.CA

Canadian wrestler Tonya Verbeek won the second Olympic medal of her career and Canada’s third of the Beijing Summer Games on Day 8 of Olympic competition.

The Beamsville, Ont., native won bronze in the 55-kilogram weight class, beating Ida-Theres Nerell of Sweden by a score of 1-0, 1-0 in the bronze medal match.

Verbeek won silver at the 2004 Athens Summer Games.

Her bronze medal in Beijing came minutes after her teammate Carol Huynh won Canada’s first gold at 48-kilograms, and less than an hour after Canadian rowers Scott Fransden and Dave Calder won silver, Canada’s first medal of the 2008 Summer Games.

Wrestler Verbeek captures Canada’s third medal

Canada’s Tonya Verbeek fights Otgonjargai Naidan of Mongolia during a match in the 55kg weight class of women’s wrestling at the Beijing Olympics. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

CBC Sports @ CBC.CA

Canadian wrestler Tonya Verbeek won the second Olympic medal of her career and Canada’s third of the Beijing Summer Games on Day 8 of Olympic competition.

The Beamsville, Ont., native won bronze in the 55-kilogram weight class, beating Ida-Theres Nerell of Sweden by a score of 1-0, 1-0 in the bronze medal match.

Verbeek won silver at the 2004 Athens Summer Games.

Her bronze medal in Beijing came minutes after her teammate Carol Huynh won Canada’s first gold at 48-kilograms, and less than an hour after Canadian rowers Scott Fransden and Dave Calder won silver, Canada’s first medal of the 2008 Summer Games.


Canada’s Tonya Verbeek, right, won silver at the Athens Olympics, the first to include women’s wrestling. (Hasan Sarbakhshian/Canadian Press)


Canada’s only female wrestler to win an Olympic medal is feeling the pressure.

When Tonya Verbeek stepped on the mat four years ago in Athens, it was the first time women’s wrestling was part of the Olympic Games. She was virtually unknown to all but her competitors.

Everything changed when Verbeek won that silver medal.

“That’s what I’ve been dealing with the last few years,” says the Beamsville, Ont., native. “I had high expectations of myself thinking everyone has expectations of me. I’m really trying to work on that.”

“Intrinsic pressures,” adds her long-time coach, Marty Calder, “those are always the toughest.”

Verbeek is a four-time national champion at the 55 kg weight class, and has won nine international competitions since the Athens Games, most recently the 2008 Pan American Games. Talking to the 31-year-old, you wouldn’t know it.

“I know I’m a better wrestler since 2004, I do know that,” she says. “But I haven’t had my strongest results since the Olympics. The last two years have been very challenging.”

She’s referring to two disappointing world championship finishes – ninth in 2007 and a second-round loss in 2006.


Canada’s Tonya Verbeek fights Otgonjargai Naidan of Mongolia during a match in the 55kg weight class of women’s wrestling at the Beijing Olympics. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Canadian freestyle wrestler Tonya Verbeek won’t be fighting for Olympic gold or silver in Beijing, but she has a chance to win a bronze medal.

Verbeek, the silver medallist from the 2004 Olympic Games, dropped a tough semifinal bout Saturday in the women’s 55-kilogram category to Saori Yoshida of Japan, the woman who defeated her four years ago for gold in Athens.

Saori Yoshida scored two points early in the match and never looked back, winning the bout 8-0 to send Verbeek into the repechage round.

Yoshida, a six-time world champion from 2002-2007, is considered the most dominant female wrestler in the world. She had lost one match in the past seven years, a winning streak that was snapped at a World Cup earlier this year. She is scheduled to face Li Xu of China in the final.

Verbeek of Beamsville, Ont., will now fight the winner of Ida-Theres Nerell of Sweden and Natalia Golts of Russia in one of two bronze-medal bouts.

Verbeek’s bronze-medal bout is scheduled for 5:25 a.m. ET.

Earlier, Verbeek swept her round of 16 bout against Mongolia’s Otgonjargal Naidan 7-0 and topped Ludmila Cristea of Moldova 6-1 in the quarter-finals.