Korey Jarvis wins bronze in freestyle, but braces for something bigger

LIMA, Peru – Canadian freestyle wrestler Korey Jarvis won a bronze medal on Saturday, beating Peru’s Andreus Gunning by a 7-0 decision in front of a deafening crowd at the Pan Am Games.

“It was loud, I’m glad they didn’t boo me,” Jarvis said. “[Gunning] fights a lot, so he came out shooting and was good to go, so I underestimated him a bit.

“It’s good that the crowd is here to support their athletes and he struggled well [but] I think the experience won in this one. “

The 32-year-old from Elliot Lake, Ont., Started his tournament with an 11-0 technical superiority quarterfinal victory over Marcos Santos of Puerto Rico.

The Canadian then lost his semifinal match by the same score to future gold medalist Nicholas Gwiazdowski of the United States, sending Jarvis to the bronze medal match against Gunning.

Canada’s Korey Jarvis (right) defeated Andreus Gunning of Peru in the men’s 125kg freestyle bronze medal match at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru on Saturday. (Carlos Osorio for CBC Sports)

This is her second career Pan American medal in the 125 kg freestyle division, after winning silver in Toronto in 2015.

But the goal here for Jarvis has always been to build his momentum towards the World Championships and secure his place at the Olympics.

“The ultimate goal is to get a medal at the Olympics. That’s what I train for, to get a medal at the Tokyo Games in 2020,” he said.

“We are always building ahead. Obviously I would have liked to have had a better game with the American because he’s the one I have to beat [for Olympic qualification]. “

Valuable presence of veterans

This may be Jarvis’ third Pan Am Games appearance, but the experience of competing for Canada and being surrounded by other athletes in other sports never gets old for him.

“It’s always a good opportunity as an athlete to attend these multisport events, it feels like it’s more of a community – it’s not just wrestlers,” he says. “We can go out and watch some of the other Team Canada athletes and you cheer them on… it’s nice to travel and see other parts of the world [and] meet a ton of different athletes and be able to watch them compete and put it all on the line, just like you do. “

Canadian wrestling head coach Tonya Verbeek says Jarvis’s experience at major events like the Pan American Games and the Olympics is a valuable asset to his fellow wrestlers, who won five medals to go with bronze. by Jarvis.

Canada’s Korey Jarvis (left) defeated Puerto Rican Marcos Santos (right) in the quarter-finals at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru on Saturday. (Carlos Osorio for CBC Sports)

“Korey has a lot of Games experience so that’s an advantage we have with him in the squad,” she said. “[He’s] a role model for the other athletes who participate and he knows what to expect.

“It has been very helpful for himself, for his personal performance and for our team.”

The state of sport

It was not so long ago that wrestling was in danger of being taken off the Olympic program.

Jarvis says the wrestling governing body has made significant changes to develop one of the oldest sports contested at the Summer Games since facing exile in 2013.

“They’ve done a good job improving tournaments, doing a series of standings, highlighting a lot of semi-finals and finals games where they have walkouts, a bit of light and smoke where viewers can get it. appreciate, ”he said. “They tried to adjust the rules to make them more user-friendly, they did a really good job putting things on the internet, which gives them a fan base.

Canada’s Korey Jarvis poses with a supporter after defeating Peru’s Andreus Gunning in the bronze medal match at the Pan Am Games. (Carlos Osorio for CBC Sports)

“I think that’s what the wrestling was missing. When your sponsors want to see these big crowds and you don’t get them, that’s why I think the wrestling was kind of on the chopping block, it didn’t. didn’t have the fan base, it doesn’t have I don’t have any followers. And now that it’s growing it’s a good thing they have [accomplished] over the past six years. “

Verbeek says that while the sport is growing, there is still a lot of work to be done as most people seem to only notice their athletes during multisport games like the Olympics.

“People are aware of our success in several previous Games … every time we are successful in the Olympics and all the world championships. We are making our mark but at the same time we could always do a better job to support our athletes and amateur sports.

“I think sometimes we get excited, every two years at the Winter and Summer Olympics, but throughout the careers of these amateur athletes they take a lot of time and commitment to be successful. that sometimes it is not recognized [at events] as obvious as the Olympics or the Pan American Games. “

Represent Canada on the World Stage

With sport’s place on the Olympic program secured, Jarvis can focus on what he loves most about wrestling: wearing the maple leaf on the world’s biggest stage. It’s an honor and a privilege, Jarvis says, that he takes seriously every time he lace up his boots.

“This is what I strive for to represent my country, to represent family and to represent my sport. It means a lot. [since] I have a lot of support from the people who sponsor me, the Canadian government pays me to represent my country through the athlete assistance program and obviously my coaches and training partners who take the time to help me. bring where I am.

Canada’s Korey Jarvis smiles after receiving his bronze medal on Saturday. (Carlos Osorio for CBC Sports)

“I don’t take this lightly. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am, so I’m very proud to be Canadian and happy to be representing my country.”

Jarvis says he hopes his success will encourage young Canadian athletes to

“I was right there on the podium, and seeing our flag up there with all the others is an inspiration, hopefully, for some people at home to come out and follow your dream.”

Robert J. King