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Renfrew wrestler looking forward to World Championships in Russia next month

Jolie Brisco just got back from competing in the Pan-American Junior Freestyle Wrestling Championships in Mexico.

Jolie Brisco's 14-day quarantine has barely ended after a wrestling competition in Mexico, but she already has her eyes set on another important trip.

The 19-year-old from the Town of Renfrew just captured a silver medal at the Pan-American Junior Freestyle Wrestling Championships and now will try for gold at the World Championships in Russia this August.

The former Renfrew Vipers Wrestling Club member is recognized as one of Canada’s up-and-coming wrestlers who has a legitimate shot at making the 2024 Canadian Olympic team if she continues her ascension within the wrestling fraternity.

In addition to her recent silver in the 59 kg weight division, Brisco took home gold at the 2019 National Junior Wrestling Championship. Her first international appearance that same year netted her a bronze at the 2019 Junior Pan-Am Championship held in Guatemala.

As the reigning Canadian 2019 champion in the 59 kg division, she was selected to travel to Oaxtepec, Mexico to compete in the Pan-AM Games. 

“I faced two opponents, one from Mexico and one from the United States,” Brisco said. “I defeated the Mexican wrestler by victory by technical superiority (VSU) 10-0 in the first round. In the third round, my American opponent beat me by VSU 10-0. Would I have liked to bring home the gold medal? Absolutely. But one thing I have learned in the years I have been competing is that there will be another match and I try to incorporate all aspects of a match into my training.”

After graduating from St. Joseph’s High School, the Renfrew native was excited to begin the next chapter of her educational and wrestling career in Montreal. 

As was the case for most amateur athletes, 2020 was a write-off for Brisco in terms of participating in any large scale competition due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although she was unable to grapple with her fellow wrestlers on the mat, she maintained a strict training regimen as a first-year undergrad student at Concordia University.

“It was a different kind of year for sure and I just finished my first year in the Sociology program and I am hoping to be enrolled in the Business Program,” Brisco said. “It is only July and I am anxious to get back to Concordia because I just love being in school and I also have access to my coaches and they are some of the best I have ever worked with.”

One major draw for Brisco to be in Montreal was the chance to train with two-time world champion and two-time Olympian Martine Dugrenier.

“She is a brilliant coach and one of the best technical coaches anywhere in the world and I trust everything she teaches and instills in me,” Brisco said. “I wouldn’t want any other coach in my corner. I am also coached by Victor Zilberman and although he is way stricter then Martine (Dugrenier) it is a good mix and each time I am with them I learn something new.”

The teen says she took one week off during the first week of July to spend time with her family at a local campground outside of Renfrew and put the hard training to the side. 

“We have two training sessions a day, six days a week once I return to Concordia and start working with my coaches again,” she said. “Our wrestling practices take about three hours and we also train in gymnastics for two hours and then about 45 minutes for cardio and self-exercising like stretching. In total, I am practicing close to six hours a day and take one day off a week. Every day I work myself to a place where the payback is worth it.”

Part of that payback means the days of worrying about fundraising for her travel expenses are behind her and her recent trip to Mexico and her upcoming trip to Russia are covered by Wrestling Canada.

The question of making Canada’s Olympic team was not an issue this year, as Brisco admits, she has a long way to go before that goal is in her sights.

“I am only a junior wrestler and I have seen and competed against senior more experienced wrestlers who are trying out for the Olympics and they are amazing and I know I am not ready yet,” she said. “It is all about time, experience and patience and when the time comes that I might try out, I will be ready and accept whatever happens.”

When asked to look back at her 12 years of wrestling from her time as a quiet, shy, 7-year-old girl staring at the big wrestling mat, she said it is hard to believe the path she has taken.

“I joined the Renfrew wrestling club for fun and something to do,” she said. “Never in a million years would I have even dreamed of winning the Canadian championship or going to Russia to compete or even say the word Olympics when I started out. But today, I am just grateful for all the people that have helped me along the way and I still think of wrestling as fun. That has not changed.”

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