Verbeek repeats women’s wrestler of year award


Beamville's Tonya Verbeek wears her silver medal for wrestling in the 55kg freestyle category at the 2012 London Olympic Games.  (Photo: COC/Jason Ransom)

Beamville’s Tonya Verbeek wears her silver medal for wrestling in the 55kg freestyle category at the 2012 London Olympic Games. (Photo: COC/Jason Ransom)

For a second consecutive year three-time Olympic medallist Tonya Verbeek of Beamsville and the Brock Wrestling Club and Matthew Gentry of the Burnaby (B.C.) Mountain Wrestling Club received respectively the Women’s and Men’s wrestlers of the year awards.

Verbeek, a multiple World Championships medallist, topped her season with a silver medal performance at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. By winning the silver she became one of only five Canadian females to win an Olympic medal in three consecutive Games.

Her previous Olympic medals include a silver in Athens (2004) and a bronze in Beijing (2008). She remains Canada’s most decorated Olympic female wrestler. She finished the 2012 international season with only two losses – one at the 2012 World Cup and one at the Olympic Games.

“Last year has been so amazing, knowing in my heart that it would be my final year of wrestling. I just enjoy stepping on mat every time. I enjoyed competing, and it’s a great way to finish my career on the mat, as an athlete,” said Verbeek.

“It was a pretty special Olympic Games for me, one of the most special in my career. The support that I had was incredible leading in the Games, and I honestly feel that I accomplished everything I could and competed at my best. That’s all you can ask for yourself, and that’s what we ask of our athletes,” said Verbeek, now helping with coaching duties at the Brock Wrestling Club.

Gentry is a two-time Olympian.

“I am very honoured to be receiving this award. I am very proud with my results from 2012. There are a lot of deserving athletes in Canada, and it means a lot to be recognized with such an award. Canadian wrestling has grown significantly in strength in recent years. I am very impressed with the quality of wrestling at this year’s ASICS Canadian Wrestling Championships,” said Gentry.

Gentry earned the best individual men’s result for Canada at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, taking the fifth spot in the 74kg weight class. He finished the 2012 international season with gold medals at the Pan American qualifying tournament and at the Ziolkowski International Tournament. In addition, he won the Yasar Dogu International wrestling tournament in Turkey.