Sarnia’s Emily Schaefer continues to climb the amateur wrestling ladder.
Earlier this month, she tied for seventh place in the 51-kilo category at the World Junior Wrestling Championships in Brazil, allowing to her achieve her goal of incrementally raising her profile on the global stage.
She finished tenth at the World Cadet Youth Wrestling Championships in 2013.
But, her success this time around was not without challenges.
Down 9-0 early in the first round of a qualifying match, known as a rat-tail match, she was within one point of being eliminated by technical superiority, (commonly referred to in other sports as being mercied). But the reigning OUA champion and CIS silver medalist from Brock University battled back to tie the score at nine before eventually advancing with a pin over her Venezuelan opponent with just over a minute to go in the match.
“Something my coach noticed is that a lot of the other countries get worn down, while Canadians have more endurance, so going into the second round I had an advantage because my training had prepared me well for that,” said Schaefer.
It was her first ever victory at the world level.
The win allowed her to advance to the round of 16, where she fell to a Ksenia Nezgovorova of Russia 8-2.
“I obviously knew she was a strong opponent,” said the 19-year old, noting Russia, Japan and Azerbaijan are the top three countries in the world for female wrestling.
“I wrestled hard and gave it everything I had, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out,” she added.
The defeat turned Schaefer into a supporter of her Russian opponent, as she would have qualified for a repechage (second chance) bout if Nezgovorova had made it to the final. But, the Russian competitor lost in the semi-finals.
A repechage match would have allowed Schaefer an opportunity to move up even higher in the standings.
The Northern Collegiate grad and four-time provincial high school champion is looking forward to some time off with family and friends before embarking on her sophomore season of wrestling at Brock, where she hopes to successfully defend her provincial crown and turn her silver medal at the nationals into a gold medal.
Her long-term goals include competing at the World junior event next season in France and qualifying to represent Canada at the Olympics in 2020.
“I’m really excited with my seventh place finish, but I’m not satisfied yet,” she said.