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Erica Wiebe books her ticket to Tokyo Olympics

Stittsville, Ont., native punches ticket without spectators amid coronavirus pandemic.

Long before knowing about the coronavirus pandemic, Olympic wrestling champion Erica Wiebe organized a small celebratory gathering for Saturday night in Ottawa.

The game plan – in victory or defeat – was to thank her close family, friends and supporters for being in her corner for so many years.

“I’ve never heard of someone doing that before,” retired Canadian wrestler Jasmine Mian stated earlier this week. “I think it shows how much she’s come to appreciate the journey of an Olympic pursuit and not just the result.

“When you have your mind in the space of enjoying the journey, the results always come.”

The results came Saturday under the strangest of circumstances at the 2020 Pan-American Olympic qualification tournament in Ottawa.

With no fans in the stands, Wiebe soundly defeated Genesis Rosangela Reasco Valdez of Ecuador 6-0 in the 76-kilogram semifinal at the Shaw Centre.

The Stittsville, Ont., native needed to concluded top-2 in her class to book passage to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games.

“It seems a little surreal,” says Wiebe, 30. “I’ve been doing this sport for a long time. I thought I had seen it all. But I have yet to experience a global pandemic.

“I’m just so happy that Wrestling Canada, United World Wrestling and the organizing committee were able to take the necessary precautions so we could wrestle.”

The doubt is something that all of Canada’s aspiring Olympians are going to have to learn to live with.

“As athletes, all we can do is control what we can control,” Wiebe stated. “I’m excited about getting back to training to improve as a wrestler. I’ve punched my ticket to Tokyo. I have my spot. All that’s left is for me to be ready to go.

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