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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Tokyo Watch - 50 Profiles in 50 Days: Erica Wiebe (Canada)

    Erica Wiebe at the 2016 Olympic Games (Photo/Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

    As of today, we under 50 days from the start of wrestling at the Olympic Games. Over the next 50 days, we'll bring you one profile per day of a decorated international contender. Make sure you get to know the wrestlers that Team USA will compete against in Tokyo.

    6/21/21 - Myles Amine (San Marino)

    6/20/21 - Sofia Mattsson (Sweden)

    6/19/21 - Hassan Yazdani Charati (Iran)

    6/18/21 - Tamas Lorincz (Hungary)

    6/17/21 - Takuro Otoguro (Japan)

    6/16/21 - Elizbar Odikadze (Georgia)

    6/15/21 - Koumba Larroque (France)

    6/14/21 - Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan)

    6/13/21 - Ningning Rong (China)

    6/12/21 - Bajrang Punia (India)

    6/11/21 - Frank Staebler (Germany)

    6/10/21 - Geno Petriashvili (Georgia)

    In 2016, many American fans expected to see Adeline Gray make history by becoming the first American woman to win Olympic gold, as she was a solid favorite in the 75 kg weight class. Many were shocked as another North American woman, Erica Wiebe of Canada, emerged victoriously and left with a gold medal. Fast forward to 2021 and both will be contenders for the top spot on the podium at 76 kg in Tokyo.

    As you'll see in our profile of Wiebe, she is one of the favorites in perhaps the deepest weight class in the entire women's tournament. We have noted some of Wiebe's most significant wins and losses during the last quad+ and all of her defeats have come against high-quality competition.

    When Erica won gold in 2016, she became only the third Canadian wrestler to do so and the second woman. Obviously, Wiebe has her mind set on putting herself in a class of her own for Canadian wrestling and doubling up on the gold medals. Here's a look at the career of the Canadian superstar.

    Key Wins: Qian Zhou (2020 Matteo Pellicone; Finals), Aline de Silva Ferreira (2021 Matteo Pellicone; Quarterfinals, 2019 Bill Farrell; Finals, 2019 Yasar Dogu; Finals), Justina DiStasio (2019 Canada Cup; Finals), Natalia Vorobeva (2019 City of Sassari; Finals), Epp Mae (2018 World Championships; Bronze), Aline Focken (2020 Matteo Pellicone; Quarterfinals, 2019 Yasar Dogu; Semifinals, 2019 City of Sassari; Semifinals, 2018 World Championships; Quarterfinals, 2018 Poland Open; Finals), Yasemin Adar (2019 Yasar Dogu; Quarterfinals, 2018 Poland Open; Semifinals), Adeline Gray (2018 Grand Prix of Spain; Finals), Jenny Fransson (2018 World Cup), Naruha Matsuyuki (2018 World Cup), Elmira Syzdykova (2021 Poland Open, Quarterfinals, 2021 Matteo Pellicone; Semifinals, 2018 Grand Prix of Spain; Quarterfinals, 2018 Klippan Lady Open; Repechage), Guzel Manyurova (2016 Olympics; Finals), Vasilisa Marzaliuk (2020 Matteo Pellicone; Semifinals, 2018 Poland Open; Quarterfinals, 2017 International Ukrainian; Quarterfinals, 2016 Olympics; Semifinals, 2016 Grand Prix of Germany; Finals), Fengliu Zhang (2016 Olympics; Quarterfinals, 2016 UWW Test Event; Semifinals)

    Key Losses:Aline Focken (2021 Poland Open; Semifinals), Aiperi Medet Kyzy (2021 International Ukrainian; Semifinals), Vasilisa Marzaliuk (2020 Individual World Cup; Bronze), Ekaterina Bukina (2019 Poland Open; Quarterfinals), Epp Mae (2019 World Championships; Quarterfinals, 2019 Poland Open; Repechage, 2019 Klippan Lady Open; Round of 16), Yasemin Adar (2020 Individual World Cup; Semifinals, 2018 Klippan Lady Open; Qualification), Justina DiStasio (2017 Klippan Lady Open; Finals), Adeline Gray (2019 Pan-American Championships; Quarterfinals, 2018 World Championships; Semifinals, 2016 UWW Test Event; Finals)

    2007-2009 (The Age Group Years)

    After briefly being exposed to wrestling in seventh and eighth grade, Erica Wiebe joined the wrestling team as a ninth-grader growing up in Ontario. Just a couple of years later, Wiebe competed in her first international competition, taking the silver medal at the Junior Pan-American Championships, while competing at 67 kg. Her weight class was won by American Amberlee Ebert.

    A year later, in 2008, Wiebe got her first taste of Senior-level competition competing at the Grand Prix of Germany. She finished seventh in an 11-woman weight class. Later that year, Wiebe competed at a World Championship-level event, for Juniors and was 13th. This also marked the year that Wiebe moved up to 72 kg and she would compete around that weight for the balance of her career.

    It was more of the same in 2009 as Wiebe started the year at the Grand Prix of Germany, but also added the Austrian Ladies Open to the docket. Top-ten finishes at these competitions, along with the Junior World Championships, showed that Wiebe was slowly improving. Though she lost, Wiebe did wrestle for the bronze in Germany.

    2010-2015 (Climbing)

    Wiebe graduated to the Senior level, full-time, in 2010 but still had a formidable competitor ahead of her on Canada's domestic ladder. Ohenewa Akuffo would earn a silver medal at the World Championships at Wiebe's 72 kg weight class. Akuffo also won world bronze in 2008. It would be a few years before Wiebe was able to claim the weight class as her own, as Akuffo made the world team in 2011 and Leah Callahan claimed the Olympic spot in 2012.

    Even so, Wiebe was able to register her first top-three finish when she took third at the Sunkist Kids Open. She was the only international competitor in a field that otherwise consisted of Americans.

    More improvements were evident in 2011, as Wiebe broke into the top-three at the Austrian Ladies Open in her third time entering the tournament. She also won Australia's Commonwealth Cup, her first tournament title at the Senior level.

    The wins started to pile up in 2012 as Wiebe captured gold at three events (Nordhagen Classics, Ion Corneanu Memorial, and the Canada Cup). The field at the Canada Cup was extremely small, but included American Adeline Gray and countrywoman Justina DiStasio, both future world champions. A couple months later, Gray and Wiebe met in the finals of the World University Championships. This time it was Gray who prevailed and a longtime rivalry was born.

    2013 saw Wiebe compete at the Pan-American Championships for the first time at the Senior level. She acquitted herself well by finishing with the bronze medal. For the second straight year, Wiebe represented Canada at the World University Championships. Again, she came away with some hardware, a bronze medal. The weight was won by Ekaterina Bukina (Russia), another opponent Wiebe would clash with many times in the future. Less than a month later, Wiebe won the Poland Open, over a loaded field. It seemed as if she was on the right track heading into her first Senior World Championships. In the first bout, Wiebe dismantled Lizette Hechavarria (Cuba), who was the Pan-American Champion that year. Next up was 2012 world champion Jenny Fransson (Sweden). Wiebe would pin Fransson for a place in the quarters. Unfortunately, her title run ended in the quarters as 2012 Olympic gold medalist Natalia Vorobieva (Russia) prevailed by a pin herself. Wiebe lost her first repechage bout to Ochirbatyn Burmaa (Mongolia) and had to leave Budapest without a medal.

    Early returns from 2014 indicated that Wiebe was ready to compete for a world medal as she opened the year with wins at the Dave Schultz Memorial and the Klippan Lady Open. Competing at a revamped 75 kg weight class, Wiebe defeated the returning world champion, Fengliu Zhang (China), at the Dave Schultz and Bukina for the title in Sweden. The Klippan weight class also included Gray.

    A pair of losses at the World Cup (Bukina and Zhang) accounted for the only two setbacks of 2014 prior to the World Championships. In Uzbekistan, at the World Championships, Wiebe grabbed a win in her opening bout, which set the stage for a quarterfinal clash with Epp Mae (Estonia). Mae ended up winning via fall. After Gray downed Mae in the semis, Wiebe was eliminated.

    2015 was similar to 2014 as Wiebe was largely dominant. She racked up tournament's left and right, winning six in total. Most notable were the Yarygin and the Klippan Lady Open. In the finals of the Klippan, she picked up another win over the former world champion Zhang. A win in the finals of the Grand Prix of Germany saw Wiebe get a small measure of revenge by defeating Mae. Wiebe did everything in 2015, but compete at the World Championships.

    2016 (The Breakout)

    Since Wiebe did not compete at world's in 2015, the 75 kg weight class was not qualified at the Rio Olympics for Canada. That forced Wiebe to head to Frisco, Texas, to compete at the Pan-American Olympic qualifier. She was able to cruise against the competition and locked up a spot in her first Olympic Games.

    After solidifying her place in Rio, Wiebe still had a few tournaments to hit down the stretch. She grabbed wins at the Grand Prix of Germany and the Canada Cup. In the German finals, Wiebe downed Vasilisa Marzaliuk of Belarus. Marzaliuk was a World bronze medalist in 2015 and would clash with Wiebe many times in the future.

    At her first Olympic Games, Wiebe got off to a good start by shutting out Maria Salmaier (Germany), 8-0. That set a quarterfinal match against her Chinese rival Zhang. In the next quarterfinal, Marzaliuk shocked Gray, who was a significant favorite. Wiebe was able to get by the Belarusian 3-0 to earn a berth in the Olympic finals. The only person standing between Wiebe and an Olympic gold medal was Guzel Manyurova (Kazakhstan), an Olympic bronze medalist in 2012. As was the case with the rest of the tournament, Wiebe's defense was on point. She cruised to a 6-0 win and became only the second Canadian woman (Carol Hyunh) to win an Olympic gold medal.

    2017-21 (The Post Olympic Years)

    After winning the Olympics, Wiebe was out of action for the remainder of 2016, then headed to compete in the Indian Pro Wrestling League. After going undefeated in India, Wiebe took runner-up honor at the Klippan Lady Open to DiStasio. Her only other competition in 2017 was a win at the International Ukrainian. An injury before the Canadian Trials prevented her from wrestling at the world championships.

    In 2018, Wiebe was as busy as ever, winning five of six tournaments before the World Championships. In Budapest, she took out Paliha (China) and perennial contender Aline Rotter Focken (Germany) to set up another meeting with Gray in the semifinals. The American won a defensive struggle 3-0, which relegated Wiebe to the bronze medal contest. Wiebe rebounded and neutralized Mae in a 4-0 win. Despite almost a decade on the scene and with an Olympic gold medal to her credit, this was Wiebe's first world medal.

    Despite maintaining a busy schedule in 2019, Wiebe also battled a variety of injuries that could have contributed to some placements that were lower than her usual standards. The year still had its share of highlights as the Canadian won a loaded weight at the City of Sassari and prevailed in a meeting of Olympic champions, with Vorobieva. In total, Erica had three tournament wins before heading to Nur-Sultan for the World Championships.

    At the World Championships, Wiebe notched a pair of wins before, yet another meeting with Mae in the quarterfinals. This time the Estonian edged her for a 4-3 decision. When Mae fell in the semifinals, Wiebe was eliminated.

    After missing out on a world medal in 2019, Wiebe looked poised for a big 2020. She started with a tournament title at the Matteo Pellicone and defeated a "who's who" of contenders at the weight (Marzaliuk, Focken, Zhou). Right before the world shut down due to Covid-19, Wiebe qualified for the Olympics at the Pan-American Qualifier. After the long break, Wiebe did compete once more in 2020 at the Individual World Cup. She was prevented from medaling after losing to Marzaliuk and Yaseman Adar (Turkey).

    2021 has shown that Wiebe will continue to be in the mix in Tokyo. She prevailed in another loaded Pellicone bracket and has grabbed bronze medals at the International Ukrainian and the Poland Open.

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