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Brantford wrestler named to Team Canada for 2023 Pan American Games

Local NewsBrantford wrestler named to Team Canada for 2023 Pan American Games

Madison Parks of Brantford will be one of 11 competitors that will represent Canada in wrestling at the 2023 Pan American Games, which begin on Friday, October 20 and run until Sunday, November 5, 2023.

Team Canada’s wrestlers for the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games are:

WW 50kg Madison Parks (Brantford, Ont.)
WW 57kg Hannah Taylor (Summerside, P.E.I.)
WW 62kg Ana Godinez Gonzalez (Burnaby, B.C.)
WW 68kg Olivia Di Bacco (Orillia, Ont.)
WW 76kg Justina Di Stasio (Coquitlam, B.C.) 
FS 57kg Darthe Capellan (Surrey, B.C.)
FS 65kg Lachlan McNeil (North York, Ont.)
FS 74kg Adam Thomson (Komoka, Ont.)
FS 86kg Alex Moore (Montréal, Que.)
FS 97kg Nishan Randhawa (Abbotsford, B.C.)
FS 125kg Amar Dhesi (Surrey, B.C.)

The athletes were selected for Santiago 2023 based on their performances at the 2023 Canadian Wrestling Championships that took place March 9 -12 in Waterloo, Ont. The team members each won their weight class, or were the first alternate, and earned the right to represent Canada at the Pan Am Games as well as the UWW World Championships taking place September 16-24 in Belgrade, Serbia.

“The Pan American Games have always been a big and fun event for me. This will be my third time participating in it. The Pan Am region has some of the top-ranked wrestlers in the world in my weight class, so I am always excited for more opportunities to get these matches in,” said Justina Di Stasio. “This year, the Pan Ams fall right between the World Championships and Canadian Team Trials (Olympic team selection). Having a competition like this between those two big events will help break up the training leading to the Trials and continue to help me see what’s working and what needs more fine tuning. Going into this event as the defending champion is cool but it doesn’t change anything preparation wise. As always, I just go in ready to compete for the full six minutes and have fun doing it.”

The members of Team Canada have a strong international track record and head to Santiago with significant major Games experience. Taylor, Di Bacco, Di Stasio, Capellan and Moore are returning to the Pan American Games after having competed at Lima 2019. Many members of the Santiago 2023 team also represented Canada last summer at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games where Canadians won an impressive 12 medals. 

Leading the way on the women’s side is Di Stasio, who is the defending Pan American Games champion and reigning Commonwealth Games champion in the women’s 76kg event. She has also been a world champion, claiming the 72kg title in 2018. She looks to defend her Pan Am Games title at Santiago 2023 as she begins her quest to qualify for her first Olympic Games.

Another former world champion on the women’s side is Ana Godinez Gonzalez, who won the 62kg U23 title in 2021. Godinez Gonzalez took silver at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and is a two-time continental champion.

As for the men, Amar Dhesi will be a name to watch. The Tokyo 2020 Olympian has continued the momentum from his Olympic debut and turned it into strong international results. Coming out of those Games, Dhesi won 125kg gold at both the 2022 Pan American Championships and Commonwealth Games.

Team Canada aims to build on the success from Lima 2019, which included six medals won (one gold, one silver, and four bronze).

“The Pan American Games is an opportunity for our best wrestlers to test themselves against an incredible field of opponents from the Americas. The Pan American countries are improving by leaps and bounds at the international level, with many countries reaching the podium at various international and world events,” said Chris Woodcroft, WCL High Performance Director. “This event will provide an excellent measuring stick for our athletes leading into our final preparation phase, prior to next summer’s Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Team Canada will include four of our athletes who are currently top five in the world and all eleven of our athletes are 2023 World Team members. We are bringing our best to meet the best of the Americas and we are looking forward to competing at one of the largest multi-sport games in the world. It is always a privilege to represent our country on the international stage and few things compare to wearing the flag at an international games!”

Wrestling will take place November 1-4 (Days 12 to 15) at the Centro de Entrenamiento Olímpico.

“What an amazing group of wrestlers I have the honour of welcoming to Team Canada for these Pan Am Games,” said Christine Girard, Team Canada’s Santiago 2023 Chef de Mission. “Veterans and rookies, all learning from each other while carrying out the impressive legacy of Canadian wrestling. Let’s cheer them on as they bring their best to the team!”

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