Photo credits : Wrestling Canada / Canadian Olympic Committee / La Presse / Radio-Canada / TVA Sports / Journal de Montréal
Olympic Games: Rio 2016
Hometown: Montreal, Quebec
Q. Could you share with us your best moment at the Olympics?
A. “There were so many moments where I just had to ask myself “Is this real?”. It had been my dream for so long to compete at the Olympics, it almost felt like I was sleeping. I had one of these moments at the opening ceremonies. My best memories at the Olympics were in Buzios, however, which is a small resort 2 hours from Rio and was where my team did our taper camp, since wresting was only at the end of the Games. The training sessions were short but intense, there were a lot of team dinners and great food choices. Just a lot of great bonding time!”
Q. Do you have any interesting stories from the Olympics?
A. “One interesting story was meeting Clara Hughes in Rio. I had just finished reading her book and then got to meet her right after my competition. Her book was very motivating and inspiring to me so it was really fun meeting her and getting her to sign my book.”
Q. Did you have a ritual before competition day?
A. “I didn’t have much structure to my before-competition plan before 2014, I would just do whatever made me feel good and sort of hoped that my training would pay off. By 2014, I was working with B2Ten and we noticed a certain degree of inconsistency in my first-match performances. It wasn’t the difference between winning and losing, but I clearly needed a little push to wake up before I could wrestle properly. So, during the 2 years leading up to the Rio Olympics, I perfected my pre-competition routine. This included the 2-3 weeks leading up to a competition in terms of tapering and mental work, as well as the time immediately preceding a competition, like weight loss, time/type of dinner, sleep time, social time, music time/(key playlists!), and most importantly – when I should see my draw sheet and how much information about my opponents I should know to prepare. I even had my exact pre-competition warm-up routine and cooldown worked out. It became like a religion, but it also meant I was very prepared in my first match in Rio.”
Q. Did you have any superstitions?
A. “I don’t have many superstitions now, but when I wrestled in high school, I had 3 songs on my ipod that I ”had” to listen to before every single match in a particular order. Wrestling matches are a bit unpredictable in timing though. You know which match number you are, but you can never tell how fast the matches before you will go. For example, if there are three matches, it could be anywhere between 1 minute to 20 minutes before it’s your turn. This caused a lot of stress in making sure I got my 3 songs in (ridiculous!) [Laughter]. Later in my career, the only “superstitions” I had were more mental games. For instance, I didn’t like knowing the past results of my opponents, I just wanted to know their style and what I needed to do to beat them, otherwise I could psyche myself out before a match even started.”
Q. Did you carry any favorite prop for a competition?
A. “Not really, but I had a favorite pair of wrestling shoes and knee pads. They weren’t actually that special though.” [Laughter]
Q. How many hours of sleep did you need before a competition?
A. “Sleeping has always been a challenge for me during competitions. On a daily basis, I need 9 to 10 hours of sleep to be functional, which is much more than average. Before competitions though, I was always nervous which reduced the time and quality of my sleep (5-6 hours). I did however find that the more I competed and followed my pre-competition plan, the better my body adapted to the stress, which made it easier to sleep. I slept pretty well before my competition in Rio, around 8 hours.”
Q. What did you eat before and after a competition?
A. “Like sleep, eating was also a challenge for me due to nervousness. It was obviously important to eat after the weigh-in to refuel from the weight loss and rehydrate and so I made sure I had plenty of carbohydrates and protein in my post weigh-in snacks and dinner. On the day of the competition, I was just trying to continually eat easily digestible snacks like bananas, goldfish crackers, applesauce, etc.”
Q. How did you react to victory and defeat?
A. “I found that the best strategy was to just ask myself if I gave it my all. If I did, I was satisfied with the outcome. If I didn’t, I would try to find out why and what I could do to improve. Despite losing the bronze medal by only 1 point in Rio, I had to use this strategy to not go crazy. I had truly given everything I had (and could barely move the next day), so there was nothing more I could have done. I am therefore satisfied with my performance in Rio. It wasn’t easy getting here though, in the past I never celebrated wins and would over analyze, dwell, and beat myself up over every little mistake. This was partly due to the training environment that I was in prior to 2012, but later in my career, I learned to understand that the journey was more important than the result. So, in 2015, I had a huge celebration for my win at the Pan American Games. But also in 2015, I lost my first match at the World Championships and was out of the competition. I cried for several days but had to pull myself out of that rut since the qualifications for the Rio Olympics were coming up. I’m not sure if I could have pulled myself out with my mindset in 2012.”