Jessie off to worlds for eighth time
Getting an injury exemption was the last thing’s on Jessie MacDonald’s mind after undergoing surgery five weeks before the Canadian team trials for the world wrestling championships.
“I didn’t want to drag it out and I do thrive on challenges to some extent,” the 32-year-old Windsor native said. “I don’t know why I wanted to do it, but I just wanted to get it over with because sometimes there is so much stress leading up to things like that.”
Being in the competitive environment of the Brock wrestling room aided in her preparations.
“You see teammates getting ready and you feed off of each other.”
Despite having to wear a mask to protect the area where she had surgery, the St. Catharines resident prevailed at the trials, defeating Natasha Fox of the Saskatoon Wrestling Club by an 8-0 margin in the 50-kilogram division.
“Even though I won 8-0, it was not a great performance for me,” the Brock Wrestling Club member said. “But when I look at what I had to go through in that five-week period, I think I did alright.”
MacDonald will be making her eighth appearance at the world championships. She was crowned a world champion in 2012 and won bronze medals in 2011 and 2013.
“That experience is an advantage, but you are always going to be nervous and that’s just a fact,” she said. “But you can start to feel a little bit more comfortable knowing that it’s just another tournament.
“Honestly, it’s the same people we wrestle all the time and it’s just going out there and performing on the right day.”
It’s nothing the former St. Catharines Athlete of the Year hasn’t done before.
“Every match is going to be a grind and you know in your mind that you can rationalize the whole experience rather than putting it up on a pedestal.”
Focusing on the magnitude of the world championships is never a good idea.
“That’s when you see yourself not succeed when you put so much pressure on an event instead of thinking that it’s the same thing we do every single day,” she said. “It’s just another tournament.”
Having that mind set isn’t easy, but it’s necessary.
“You have to break down the world championships right down to one move at a time, just like we do every time we wrestle.”
She has gotten better at that at each successive world championship.
“It’s not something I had in the past,” she said. “It was a whole encompassing thing that was very scary and now I can see that’s it attainable and breaking things down can lead you to the ultimate goal.”
Her plan for the worlds is to find herself back on the podium.
“That is always the goal,” she said. “Last year, I had just come back from having a baby and I had a bit of a different mind set. I definitely was a bit smaller because I was wrestling up (a weight class).
“I am ready for the challenge and it has been a good year.”
MacDonald has had an eventful 2018 already, winning a silver medal in April at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
“I had the time of my life there and the whole tournament was run really well,” she said. “To be a part of any Games and to get to live in the village with all the other athletes is a privilege.”
The highlight was getting to meet Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.
“I don’t think an athlete is ever happy unless they win, but the girl I lost to from India is one of the top wrestlers in the world,” she said. “I still walked away with a silver and sometimes it’s a little bittersweet, but you have to be happy with your victories.”
To prepare for the world championships Oct. 20-28 in Budapest, Hungary, there are a number of tournaments MacDonald will compete in. Among the competitions are the Canada Cup in Guelph in July, a tournament in Spain in July and an event in Poland during the first week of September. There is also the possibility of a training camp in Korea at the end of July.