My Wild Trip to Rio

For those interested in the TL DR (Too Long, Didn’t Read) version of the story: I just went to Rio de Janeiro and won a silver medal at the Brazil Cup (yay). Below are some pics courtesy United World Wrestling:

BrazilCup2014_1Quarter-final vs. BrazilBrazilCup2014  Semi-Final vs. BrazilBrazilCup2014_2 Final vs. JapanBrazilCup2014_3 Podium pic

For those of you interested in the adventure story that is my typical whirlwind travel excursion, get comfy. The trip to Rio began at 4am on Saturday November 22nd. I had to wake up to drive myself to the Moncton airport and of course I had no idea what lie ahead of me so I was wide-eyed and bushy-tailed! I had a travel mug full of coffee, a full tank of gas, and the hour and forty minute drive to Moncton went by quite smoothly. When I arrived in Toronto I hustled to my gate through US Customs for my flight to Washington. I got there just in time for boarding when the gate agent called my name. “Oh no,” I thought, as this has usually meant that I’m not getting on my flight… I was right. However, this ended up working out better. The United Airlines agent told me that the flight was oversold and that if I was willing to give up my seat she could get me on a direct flight from Toronto to Houston (skipping Washington – which was an entirely useless layover – entirely) and I gladly accepted! This just meant that I was chillin’ for seven hours in the Toronto airport. Whatevs, I did some school work and passed the time before some of my teammates arrived. I ended up joining up with Jill, Michelle, Braxton, and Marty for the flight and it was nice to have some companions for a change (I usually travel solo). It was a short flight to Houston and our group grew in size when we arrived at our gate in Houston for our flight to Rio. But of course, the trip had gone all too smoothly so far! Cue the mayhem. Our flight, originally departing at nine pm, gets delayed until ten. Aircraft maintenance they said. Then, ten turns into eleven… Eleven into midnight… Then at one am the inevitable occurs and our flight is cancelled. Then began the lengthy process of trying to get a hotel room for the night and onto a new flight to Rio and by three thirty in the morning (Houston time) we had finally made it to the hotel for the night and our flight was booked for nine pm. Of course, the cliché adage suggests that when life gives you lemons you make some lemonade; so when in Houston… Why not check out a Houston Texan’s game!? Although I am neither a Houston Texans nor a Cincinnati Bengals fan, I could not pass up the opportunity to go see my first NFL game! So we booked some tickets for the 100 level (amazing seats!) and headed to the one o’clock game. It was definitely a spectacle and the energy was unreal! Here are some pics from the game:

HoustonGame2 HoustonGame1HoustonGameHoustonGame3

After the game we caught a ride back to our hotel to grab our bags and head to the airport. We stopped in to Ruby’s Diner at the airport to use our meal vouchers up before our flight. Despite being mindful of my weight I still opted for the strawberry shake. It was definitely worth it despite the jokes about weight cutting from my teammates. After the tournament Michelle attributed my wrestling “like a stud” to consuming that shake! It was a pretty awesome shake 🙂 When we got back to our gate it turned out that our flight was delayed again! Cue the jokes that we weren’t getting to Rio again that night. Luckily we were able to board and depart only ninety minutes late and we managed to have a relatively smooth trip to Rio (despite the United Airlines flight attendants being jerks). When we finally got to Rio everyone managed to find their bags, not at the carousal, but at the UA baggage claim on the second floor and then we loaded up our bus to get to our hotel. Around three pm we arrived at the Rio’s Presidente Hotel and the American team got off the bus. Our coaches got on and told us we were going straight to the venue for the afternoon practice because the hotel elevator was broken and we would have to walk the stairs up to our rooms on the ninth floor. That and we had already missed the morning session of this camp we were supposed to be attending and we couldn’t miss the second too. So, off we went to practice. The practice was supposed to start at four, but we arrived late and asked the Brazilian coaches to wait for us to change to begin the practice. We jumped right in immediately to scrimmage. After practice we were given fifteen minutes to shower and get back on the bus to go back to the hotel. Luckily I had packed granola bars and protein powder in my luggage because we got caught in traffic on the way back. When we finally got to the hotel we went straight to dinner, as none of us had eaten apart from the small serving of fruit and a croissant we got for breakfast on the plane. We stuffed ourselves within reason, having not eaten all day but still trying to be mindful of how much we might possibly weigh at this point, and then went to go pass out in our rooms so we could get as many hours of sleep as possible before leaving on the bus at seven am the next morning for the next practice. Tuesday we had two mat practices and I got to wrestle with lots of new partners from Japan and Brazil. In the morning we did scrimmages and in the afternoon we did a lot of drilling. The day went by very quickly and I tried to make the most of every practice. I trained with many different people and ask the coaches as many questions as possible to try to soak up this learning experience. Tuesday evening after dinner I played cards with Veronica and Jordie. First we played crazy eight countdown then they both tried to teach me euchre. I’m still trying to grasp the rules to that one haha. Wednesday morning we only had one mat practice in the morning and we did two matches. I wrestled with the 55kg and then 59kg from Japan. I got a lot of opportunities to interact with the coaches all week during the camp which was great. Leigh gave the team a great talk on overcoming adversity and I feel like that is what we had been doing the entire trip. It is hard sometimes to roll with the punches and make the best out of some circumstances but I think we all did a great job of adapting during this trip, all things considered. Thursday was weigh-in day. Everyone said there was no sauna. There was no sauna at the hotel or the venue and the Brazilian team said they did not know where a sauna was. But, if there is a sauna I will always find it! Thanks to Pineda for helping me on that one! Ten blocks from the hotel there was a sauna at the YMCA and it was HOT! I waited until the very last minute before we had to catch the two pm bus to the venue. I lost 1.5kg in thirty minutes which is a weight-cutting record for me. It usually takes about an hour to lose 1kg. I got to the venue and I was 0.1kg under! I was very happy with my cut and went to the grocery store to get some stuff for after weigh-ins. The doctor was late for medicals but eventually we got those done and weighed in around 6:15pm. Then we hopped on the bus and went back to the hotel. It was an early night for me because I wanted to get lots of sleep but I tried to get my fill of fluids and food before bed. I woke up at 6:30am for breakfast before catching the 7:30am bus to the tournament. I had a great warm-up with Braxton and my first match was bout 18 against Brazil. I had a good match and I pinned my opponent. My second match was the semi-final against another Brazilian. I had wrestled this opponent in the camp and had a game plan for the match. I won by technical superiority. In the final I had Japan who was 2nd at the Junior World Championships that year. I scrambled well and did some good things in the match but I got extended on an attack and got pinned. I was still very happy with my silver medal and as a team, Canada was 2nd. After the tournament a lot of the women went to a Brazilian Barbecue restaurant and we had a lot of food! It was a really fun experience and I even got to try a chicken heart! It wasn’t bad tasting, but it definitely had an interesting texture. The next morning we got up bright and early to make the most of our one day of sight-seeing. We went on an adventure on the metro, city bus, and by van to get to the Cristo Redentor statue. It was definitely worth seeing! I also got a glimpse of the Copacabana Beach before I had to head back to the hotel to grab my bags to go to the airport. I was traveling out of a separate airport at a different time than the rest of the team. There was supposed to be a shuttle to take me to the airport at 3:30pm but there was no one there. I ended up taking a taxi and still getting to the airport in plenty of time. I checked in with the airline and my first flight went well. I got to Sao Paulo and tried to check in with United Airlines but they said I didn’t have a reservation. Turns out, it was either the first flight change when I cancelled the Washington flight or when my first flight from Houston to Rio got cancelled that something in the system went wrong. Luckily I had three hours to sort all of this out. The attendant at the counter tried to figure everything out and tried to re-route me through Chicago instead of Newark to get to Toronto; but, that wasn’t working, so he had me go to the ticketing counter in the corner of the airport. The guy I saw was really nice and he ended up spending a good 45 minutes getting me on my originally booked flights. Now I checked in at the UA self-check in and went to the Air Canada desk to make sure my Toronto to Moncton flight was still okay. Luckily they made fast work of putting me on the flight and figuring out my bags. Twenty-five hours, one Brazilian taxi cab ride, one giant mix up, four planes, and a road trip to Moncton later, I finally got back to Fredericton. Of course I was right on time to go to a group meeting for the final presentation in my Monday night class. That’s just the life of a student-athlete I guess. My group ended up getting an A on that presentation and I got 100% on the make-up test I had to write after class. And that is just a glimpse at what it’s like on international trips as a National Team athlete.