She has the advantage of being able to recover from a huge disappointment, not qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, to experience a near-perfect track in the world.
It was quite an adventure to get there, she admits at first. I always had the idea that I could be one of the best players in the world. You need a chance to show it.
I did everything in my power to prepare myself as best I could, without being able to train in Fredericton, New Brunswick. I had to move away so I could train during the pandemic.
The Ontario athlete has drawn a lot of threads in the spring, between her connections and friendships, in the countries she’s crossed during her career.
Canada has been very strict in its health guidelines, but not all countries have been very strict, she recalls. So I trained in the United States for a while, in Estonia after that, and then I was invited to train in Budapest with an athlete of my class.
Despite this unwavering desire, Samantha Stewart had to give up the games.
She said it was heartbreaking to be so close (to qualify for the Olympics). I was in shock. And when I got back to Canada, I had to self-isolate for two weeks in my tiny apartment, on my own. I was touched by my disappointment and my wound was healed.
Samantha Stewart returned to Estonia and rubbed shoulders with the athletes who had qualified for the Olympics.
Put me back in the saddle. I was training with girls who were going to be in the games, and I could tell I was on the same level, you remember. She gave me my goal in the World Championships: to show what I had been telling myself for so long, that I could compete at the highest level and be among the best.
That’s what I did, and I was able to stand on the podium.
In every fight, I tried to show my best. I only thought of fighting as best I could.
She explained that in the fight for the bronze medal, I wanted to implement all these artistic gestures that I practiced in the drills. The competition is used to show all the work you have done upstream. That’s what I did and I’m happy with my performance.
Samantha Stewart pays tribute to her coach Don Ryan.
If I could get to the medal, it was thanks to Don. She explained that he did research on each of my opponents and recorded fight clips so we could work on each other’s style. And before each match, we practiced the artistic gestures we chose together.
At the highest level, all wrestlers are technically strong and have incredible form. It’s really with a good tactical game plan that I can beat themas you say.
Samantha Stewart will basically resume her physical training after a well-deserved break. The International Federation (United World Wrestling) is expected to publish the schedule for the next season, which begins in January, within the next two weeks.
Sanitary conditions are good in New Brunswick. She said all athletes must be vaccinated and show evidence in order to train and compete. We are doing what we can to resume a fairly normal life.
She adds that when the calendar comes out, I can plan my training for these competitions. At the moment, aerobic exercise is mostly done, from cardio to the gym. All I know is that in March we have tests for the upcoming worlds, which will take place in Serbia in 2022.
The Olympics leading up to the 2024 Games in Paris won’t be very long, which is a huge motivation for Samantha Stewart.
When I get a bronze medal at the World Championships, I want to keep the same spirit for the international competitions in 2022 and stay at the same level until our Canadian picks in December 2023.
I feel like I’ve really found a way to beat the best.
The 31-year-old tended to turn 57kg, but the Olympic cycle is too short. So she’ll stay on familiar ground with her personal trainer.
The passing of Tonya Verbeek
On October 15, the Canadian Federation announced the resignation of Tonya Verbeek, who has been the national team coach since 2019. She has risen through the ranks of the organization since her retirement in 2012.
Samantha Stewart says I’m disappointed to see Tonya leave, because she brought so much to the show. She has such a background, and it was amazing to think that this position was filled by a woman, she was a real inspiration to me.
With three Olympic medals, Tonya Verbeek has made wrestling history in Canada. But in the context of the epidemic so crippling the preparation of athletes, I witnessed the poor performance of the Canadian team in Tokyo. Does this explain it?
I don’t know if his departure is related to Tokyo’s poor performance. I didn’t talk to him. Did you get a show or were there backstage discussions after the Tokyo Olympics? asks Samantha Stewart. I do not know.
And to replace Tonya Verbeek, does Samantha Stewart have a name in mind?
Our training environment is very decentralized, and there are good athletes all over the country, so the next coach will have to make sure we maintain some cohesion within the team, she says. Canada is already doing it well.
I think Paul Ragusa is doing a great job in Calgary. He is excellent, feel free to say, but he has a young family, and the national coach has to travel a lot. The Federation may have a hard time finding someone who can give a lot of time to our sport.
Samantha Stewart has some ideas.
Perhaps they can create a double shift, so the two people can go two separate ways to pursue our athletes.
Or use personal trainers more often.
She notes that whenever the federation can send personal trainers to an international competition, the athletes love them. The person selected must be able to work with personal trainers, and this is very important.
We feel Samantha Stewart is thinking about the future and health of her sport. Her eyes are focused on Paris, but her work within the New Brunswick Confederation, of which she is the new director, may open up other horizons for her.
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