Sickness can’t deter Taylor
Defending champion Hannah Taylor didn’t let sickness prevent her from winning her eighth national freestyle wrestling title and third in the senior ranks last weekend in Waterloo.
“It was knowing and trusting the process and the work I put in beforehand had made me ready for any opponent,” the 24-year-old Summerside, P.E.I., native said. “It is kind of a newfound confidence in myself, my abilities and my preparation. When I step on the mat, I am confident that I am ready.”
Confidence is crucial for any athlete in any sport.
“It’s super important because you have to believe that you are not only able to do it on your best day but also on your worst day,” said the two-time bronze medalist at the under-23 world championships. “When I stepped on the mat and the whistle blew (at nationals), I knew that I did not feel great at all. Having the confidence in all the work that I put in leading up to the event — that my weight cut went well and that my cardio and strength were at the best they could have been — so even though I didn’t feel great I had confidence in my abilities to go forward and get the job done regardless of what it looked like.”
In the 57-kilogram final, she defeated long-time foe Alexandria Town, a former under-23 world champion. The two have wrestled more than 20 time against each other.
“We are pretty good rivals, we have been back and forth a lot of years and we have had a lot of competitive matches,” said Taylor, who hasn’t lost to Town in a while.
The three-time USPORTS champion’s win at this year’s senior nationals qualifies her to represent Canada on the national team this summer. The 2022 bronze medalist at the Commonwealth Games will first compete in Argentina in May at the Pan American championships. The event is a qualifier for both the world championships and the Pan Am Games.
Competing at the Pan Am championships automatically qualifies Taylor for the 2023 worlds where a top five finish will give Canada a berth in the 57-kilogram division at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
The Canadian Olympic trials will be held in December and Taylor will use her international schedule to prepare for that event.
“This summer is going to help me improve nationally and internationally by attending a lot of training camps and tournaments,” the four-time Ontario University Athletics champion said. “In the end, I want to make that Olympic team. It has been three years since the last Olympic trials and I missed out the last time because I got second.”
In December 2019, she lost in the final to former world champion Linda Morais.
“I have had to think about that match for a lot of years now and I am ready for another opportunity.”
The memory of that loss to Morais, who is now competing in a different weight class, is something Taylor takes into all her training and competitions.
“It was my preparation leading up to it,” she said. “Going into that tournament, I thought I had covered all areas to be successful in that match. When I got there, I was turned on the ground multiple times and that was something that I had worked on previously but it wasn’t enough.”
She is confident that won’t happen again.
“Now I feel my analysis of my opponents is a lot stronger and I have a lot more expectations moving forward. I can look at what they do, analyze it and I am able to have a counter for what they are considering doing.”