RIO DE JANEIRO — Erica Wiebe captured a gold medal at the Rio Olympics on Thursday, continuing Canada’s medal streak in women’s wrestling.
The 27-year-old from Ottawa beat Guzel Manyurova of Kazakhstan in the final of the 75-kilogram category.
Wiebe dominated the 38-year-old veteran, who took silver in 2004 and bronze in 2012, winning by a score of 6-0 after downing Vasilisa Marzaliuk of Belarus, China’s Fengliu Zhang and Germany’s Maria Selmaier earlier in the day.
Zhang and Russia’s Ekaterina Bukina shared the bronze medal.
With the victory, Wiebe follows in the footsteps of two-time Olympic medallist Carol Huynh, the winner of Canada’s first-ever gold in women’s wrestling in Beijing eight years ago, and Tonya Verbeek, who finished on the podium at three separate Games.
Canada has never missed the podium since women’s wrestling made its Olympic debut in Athens in 2004.
“The tradition continues! .soproudofyou,” tweeted Huynh, Canada’s assistant chef de mission in Rio.
Wiebe teared up on the podium as she examined the medal around her neck. She then sang along as O Canada played and the Maple Leaf was raised, kissing the medal before posing for a photo with her fellow competitors.
“I was a training partner in London and I snuck up onto the mats to see what it was like and it was like the same mats that I trained on every day,” she said. “I knew I could be there in four years. It hasn’t been easy, but it is amazing.”
She said she didn’t about the fact Manyurova was a two-time medallist.
“I didn’t think about who I was wrestling, I didn’t think about what they were,” she said. “I just thought about what I needed to do in that moment and I still don’t really believe it.”
Canada’s only other gold in wrestling was won by Daniel Igali in 2000.
Thursday’s win at Barra Olympic Park was Canada’s fourth gold medal in Brazil, equalling the combined haul from 2008 (three) and 2012 (one), and the most since the seven collected in Barcelona in 1992.
The Canadian team’s 2016 medal tally now sits at four gold, two silver and 10 bronze after Wiebe’s triumph and diver Meaghan Benfeito’s second bronze of the Games earlier in the day.
Track star Andre De Grasse had a chance at another medal for Canada later Thursday in the men’s 200-metre final, while Damian Warner was in the hunt in the decathlon.
Wiebe beat Marzaliuk 3-0 in the semifinals after coming from behind to defeat Zhang 3-1 in the quarters.
Wiebe, who didn’t make Canada’s team for last summer’s Pan Am Games in Toronto, trailed Zhang after the first round, but fought back before sealing it late.
A gold medallist at both the Commonwealth Games and the World University Championships in 2014, Wiebe started the day by beating Selmaier 3-0 in the round of 16.
In other action involving Canadians, Saskatoon’s Jillian Gallays lost her qualification match to North Korea’s Myong Suk Jong in the 53-kilogram category, while Danielle Lappage of Olds, Alta., withdrew because of injury early in her showdown with Ukraine’s Yulia Tkach at the same stage of the 63-kilogram division.
Canadian women’s national team coach Leigh Vierling said Lappage hurt her back in warmup and tried to battle through, but the visibly distraught 25-year-old only lasted 40 seconds before calling it quits.
“Things happen quickly,” Vierling said in describing the injury. “I don’t know if it was slippery … she went to elevate her training partner and kind of slipped back and got caught in a really funny position — almost like a splits.
“Our medical crew tried to do a pit crew job on it, but her body’s really angry right now.”
Lappage — who also won gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and World University Championships — still had a shot at a bronze by way of the repechage if she recovered in time, but Tkach lost her next bout, eliminating the Canadian.
“It tears my heart apart,” said Vierling. “(Lappage) was just so ready to win this thing.”
Gallays, 29, was also eliminated from a possible repechage spot after Jong lost in the quarters.