Today was a great day, with wrestling being voted back
into the Olympic programme for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. I am
thrilled and excited beyond words- the emotions run
This whole process for the last 7 months has been a trying
one for our great sport, and I am proud that the leadership had the
good sense and courage to make the necessary changes so that we
could be included back in the Olympics.
While wrestling truly has gone through a rebirth, with new
leadership, rule changes, and weight classifications, there is
still more to be done and I am confident that we will continue to
take the positive steps needed in order to be successful. For me,
success will not only be that a lucky few get to step out on the
competition mat at the Olympic Games. It will be the amount of
youth that will try out for wrestling after dreaming about Olympic
glory, and learn the valuable life skills that wrestling imparts on
its disciples in the process. Success will be the amount of people
that wrestling heroes continue to inspire with stories from leaders
like Daniel Igali who came as a refugee to Canada and became an
Olympic Champion. Success will be the coaches and teammates that
provide positive role models and good friendships. Wrestling does
these things and many more, and I am grateful for having it been in
I cannot imagine an Olympics without wrestling, and tonight I will
not have to. Thank you to all those that worked very hard to make
this possible. Good luck to all those high school wrestlers, you
can continue working just as hard for Tokyo, 2020!
This photo was taken tonight at one of my wrestling clinics. With yesterday's news to *recommend* dropping wrestling from the Olympics, I am going to fight so that Ethan Spacht, an 8 year old who just won his first state title, can have the same opportunities that wrestling gave me. I am going to fight for his and literally millions of other kids' around the world Olympic dreams, because when I was 8 I had big dreams too. Wrestling allowed me to achieve a lot of my goals, but more importantly it was a vehicle that provided me an education and made me a better person. Those practices, competitions, and relationships taught me the value of hard work, self-discipline, sacrifice, perseverance, positive attitude, overcoming self-doubt, mental toughness and other character-building traits that I rely on every day to be a better worker, husband, coach, and citizen. The Olympics is the pinnacle of our sport, and without the Olympics I fear that wrestling will wither and fade away as countries cut funding (the main source of sport funding around the world is governmental).
One cool story about Ethan winning this tournament was that he had to wrestle a tough opponent who he had lost to 3 weeks prior. His response when he found out who his opponent was? "YES!" Wrestling is personal, physically exhausting, and emotionally taxing, and even an 8 year old wrestler embraces those challenges. I hope he keeps that attitude his whole life because wrestling taught me the same thing. I am obviously biased towards wrestling, but I am amazed at the public outcry from people outside the sport who are equally shocked by the IOC's somewhat shady decision. For that reason, and with the knowledge that wrestlers around the world will mobilize to do what they must to save the sport, I am optimistic that this decision will not stand for long.
Yours in WRESTLING!
2x Canadian Olympian
Just wanted to let people know that Matt Gentry t-shirts are
still avaiable at https://www.wepay.com/stores/matt-gentry-wrestling!
Get your t-shirt now. Matt Gentry t-shirts are great
for all occasions including:
....Acting like a Moose!
....Cheering on TV!
....Meeting girls, atta a boy Mitko!
Even the pets love 'em!
Thanks for the support!
Friends, Family, Fans,
I wanted to send an update on my thoughts and feelings
following the 2012 Olympics. This is a little delayed coming and
very long, as it has taken me a little while to process everything,
combined with a busy schedule getting caught up with the rest of my
life. I definitely feel like I owe everyone something in return for
all the support I've received over the last few
I have arrived in London OK and am excited to be here. The
olympic Village is pretty fun, check out some photos I posted on
facebook at the Matt Gentry Wrestling fan page for a very small
taste of London. To be honest, all my focus for the last few months
has been on my competition, so the time of the Opening Ceremonies
was in some ways a nice mental break where I can enjoy the actual
Games experience. Saturday, when competition begins it will
be back to a laser focus.
I just wanted to do a quick update, I have been getting
bombarded with well wishes, and also quite a few questions.
These are by far the most common so I thought I would answer
them all in one place.
When do you leave? A little late to answer, but July
Will you walk in the Opening Ceremonies? Just did. Only about
50% of the athletes actually walked from Team Canada because it is
so exhausting. We had to be ready at 8 pm, and returned after
1 AM and we were on our feet with no chance to rest the entire
time. It obviously isn't bad compared to what many people do
on a daily basis, but when you are trying to peak for a competition
in the coming days, a lot of athletes choose to skip it. I
don't compete for another 2 weeks though so I took part.
What were your impressions of the Opening? It was AWESOME.
Now the athletes didn't march in until the very end, so we
missed all the performances (I heard they had cows and goats?). but
just getting to walk with the whole world watching is overwhelming.
We have 2 returning Olympic medalists on our team (on the girls'
team, Carol Huynh and Tonya Verbeek) and they were put in the front
row, so we stayed right with them and got a ton of airtime on CTV!
I have had tons of facebook messages from people who saw me on TV.
Do you stay in the Olympic Village? We only stayed in the
Olympic Village until the day after the Opening, so a total of 2
nights. Now we have moved out and it is a good thing we are
moving out, the Olympic Village is BUZZING with energy and
excitement, and it is sometimes hard to focus with so much going
on. We are focusing and doing our last bit of training out in
the English countryside (more on that in another post later).
Seriously, I can hear sheep bleating and it smells vaguely
like cow pies this second.
When do you compete? On Friday, August 10 at 1 pm London time (8
hours ahead of Pacific Coast). The prelims will go about 2-3
hours and I can expect 3-4 matches. The finals begin at 6 pm
London time. The best place to watch the matches will likely
be online at a streaming service. You can either look it up
on CTV which is responsible for Team Canada coverage or themat.com
might have some information on wrestling specifically.
Do you know who you wrestle? No, we do a random draw at the time
of the weigh-in and are filled into a bracket. There are 19
wrestlers from 19 different countries competing and it is
essentially a single elimination tournament.
Are you excited? Yes. Duh.
Are you nervous? The short answer is yes, but in a good way. If
I weren't I probably a) should be nervous about not being nervous
or 2) wouldn't be human. They say that there is something
unique about every Olympics. For me, the mentality in
preparation has been very different than Beijing, and it has been
all positive. I had a lot of anxiety and pressure (from
myself) in Beijing and it kind of detracted from my experience.
After that experience and maturity, I am so much mentally
stronger, and the anxiety has been replaced with excitement.
Any shout-outs? My wife for all the sacrifices she's made for me
to train full-time, my family for their unconditional support, my
teammates for making it fun, my coaches for making me better, and
the Canadian Olympic Committee for making us feel like rock
Thanks to everyone for making this a special time. I have
been more than adequately supported in my journey.
We get a monthly email from Marnie McBean, 3x Olympic Champion
Rower. It is usually pretty good and I thought I would share this
one with everyone....
July 1 2012. Happy Canada Day!
you will go to London for YOUR Olympics. They will be different
than anything you've ever done including World Championships, World
Cups and other Olympic Games. How they effect - and affect you - is
up to you. Everyone is different and being different is just fine.
Today I'd like to share with you some advice from the experiences
of two incredible competitors, Christine Nesbitt and Clara
year ago, I asked World and Olympic Champion Christine Nesbitt to
recount what it was like going to the Vancouver Olympics for her
speed skating competitions. I had heard that the atmosphere and
noise in the London Velodrome would be similar to that of the
speedskating oval in Richmond and I wanted to pass on any tips to
Tara Whitten, Zack Bell and our other track cyclists. Her message
got back to me a bit late for their test event - but I believe the
experience she recounted can surely resonate with you
stuck me in her message was how the energy from the Games - the
competition, crowds and the media - resonated with her differently
than her teammate, Clara Hughes. Even though both women would win
medals at those Games, Christine realized that the way she needed
to handle the Olympic energy had to be HER way - not Clara's or
anyone else's. Some are inspired by the Olympic energy and ride it
like a wave - some people need to separate it out and stay focused
on their own very specific (and very well trained!) task at
Christine and Clara's permission, I've copied parts of notes
they've both written to me. Clara's note is part of an incredible
message that she wrote to the Canadian 2010 Olympic Team after
racing her first of two events, having just carried the Canadian
flag at the Opening Ceremony.
(Note- Vancouver was Christine's 2nd Olympics,
she had won a medal in 2006. In Vancouver she was favoured to win a
medal in 2 or 3 of her 4 events)
remember feeling so overwhelmed by the crowd that I wanted to cry
before my first 500m race. (We race two of them. They
take a combined time.) When the gun went off, all I could think was
"use it", but if you're thinking it, you're not doing it...
had spoken to Clara Hughes before my races, and she is a different
kind of athlete from me. She had already raced the 3000m, and
she said that the roar of the crowd propelled her and gave her
extra energy and willpower...that kind of thing. She really knows
how to get that magical extra 'je ne sais quoi' they say the
Olympics brings. I found, this was not true for me.
second 500m was much better; I was more relaxed and enjoying it.
Also, I didn't feel the pressure (because the 500m is not one) of
my specialty distances.
the 1000m came, I thought I had gotten my nerves out, but when you
know it's 'your' distance, nerves will be there no matter what. I
wasn't really prepared for this. I had never gone into an Olympic
race being the number one, hands down favourite. It was not
fun at all.
was tight, and over thinking everything in the first 600m. I was
analyzing how my race was going, judging off of my pair (who
actually had a terrible race, but I thought it was good, so I
misjudged what I was doing--not the right place to focus). I
remember crossing the line for my 600m split time with one lap to
go, and I swear I heard the crow go silent. I knew I was way
off pace. At this point, I finally brought the race back into my
own hands, into my own mind, and under my own power. And this
is what gave me the ability that day, despite (what was to me) a
disastrous race, to win.
I gave you basically a summary of my race, and how it didn't go
well. But I think it all stemmed from the crowd, and
underestimating my own nerves under that intense sound, and
pressure, and energy. Since the Vancouver Olympics, I have
vowed to myself that no racing, not even the next Olympics, will be
so un-enjoyable and so stressful. I have been working on
finding something that makes me smile. When people say 'relax',
that's not helping me. I'm a very intense competitor, and I
love my focus and game face. But I'm learning, I can still crack a
smile 22 minutes before my race, or when I'm gliding around the ice
7 minutes before I race, or when my coach and I make eye contact
for that last time before going to the start line. A brief
smile or laugh helps me relax my shoulders, and lets me feel that
biting pressure of my blades into the ice. It allows me to
relax, to feel the things that I have worked so hard for, and
remind me of how confident I am in my ability and in the program I
follow. That energy from the crowd can really propel you - I
understand that now. But for me, I need to feel this mini
relaxation before and then that energy can pour into my race.
Nesbitt, 2010 Olympic Champion in the 1000m. Since she
'smile' she is World Champion in the 1000m, 1500m and has a
the Team Pursuit.
I competed yesterday and it was incredible. I have never
raced within a tunnel of energy like that. I felt like my
heart was open and all of the cheers, screams, cowbells and drive
of the crowd went in and propelled me forward. Seriously!
What I really want to share, however, is the perspective I had
after the opening. Being chosen to carry the flag was a huge honor.
It was exciting. It was nice. It was beautiful.
But...... and this is a big 'but'....... the feeling I had
while leading the team was more a realization than anything.
I realized that even an honor this huge, this special, well,
in the end, it does NOT compare to racing. It does not
compare to competing. It does not compare to having the
chance to perform and to push myself and to have the opportunity to
challenge myself, to face the deep down fears that we all have as
athletes when it is game time.
Carrying the flag made me realize that I GET TO RACE AT THE
OLYMPICS and that this alone is something that will never, ever
compare to anything else in life. It made me hungry to
compete. It made me aware of the chance I had and have in
these Games to put myself out there and max myself out. It
made racing yesterday and the thought of racing again next week
seem like the greatest thing in the world. When these Games are
over, for me, as for at least a few of us, it is all
over. Nothing in life will ever feel this way again.
So what I am saying, I think, is do NOT LOSE THESE MOMENTS that
you have in front of you. Go into these events with a big,
open heart, and let the energy of this nation and all Canadians
inside. You will receive an inspiration unimaginable.
Don't get me wrong, I was not in the oval waving, smiling or
conversing with the crowd: I wanted to rip someone's head off I was
so hungry to race. But I let the whoops and the hollers feed
me. It was amazing.
You will have many honors and special events in your life, but
nothing will be like being an Olympic athlete and competing.
May you all have wings that allow you to soar,
Hughes, 2006 Olympic Champion, 6x Olympic medalist and only athlete
to have multiple medals at both summer and winter games. Clara will
be part of Canada's Road Cycling team in London 2012
who you need to be at the Games to get the most from yourself and
your team. There is no right or wrong way to be an Olympian - stay
true to who you have been to get this far - it's been working
Between now and the 2012 Olympic Games I will be sending out a
monthly email. Think of it as a talking point; you may agree with
me, maybe disagree… It may serve as a heads up or reminder to some
ups and downs that are a natural point of believing that you can
more than just go, more than just compete, but compete at your very
BEST at the Olympics. My goal will never be to add to your stress,
but to help you wear it well.
Three time Olympic Champion - Rowing
Hello friends and family,
I don't post much onto the blog these days, and I apologize
but I have been using Twitter (@gentrywrestling) and Facebook
(page: Matt Gentry Wrestling) to do a lot more frequent updates on
my training and competition life. At the same time, I've been
getting a lot of requests for blogs from a different generation
that doesn't use social media. I'll leave out any comments on
age/old fashioned. :-)
I am just returning home to my beautiful wife after being
gone the last 2 weeks. I will be home about 10 days in June
and only 4 nights total in all of July. I am lucky that I
have such a supportive partner who really believes and supports me
so much. I read an article recently from the New Yorker
magazine by Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Blink, Tipping Point,
and Outliers. It talked about young geniuses and old masters
and that in ancient times, people of the arts were sponsored by
'patrons' who supported them so they could pursue their life work.
For me, I consider wrestling an art form, and I am constantly
striving to perfect my craft but for me to continue pursuing my
goals has required some sacrifices, mostly being on the road for
weeks at a time. I am very willing to make these sacrficices,
but now I am asking Emily (my wife) to make them as well. I
am lucky to have the support I have from my family, in-laws, but
especially Emily. As I near the end of my athletic career, I
am more appreciative than ever for that support, and the success I
have is really their success as well. Thank you!
Here is a list of my matches and a short interview from the
weekend which were uploaded on YouTube.
Semifinal vs. Cuba This was the tough match where the winner goes
to the Olympics.
Finals vs. Puerto Rico
Post Match Interview
Hope you enjoy them!
Well, I didn't even know this blog was still running! My best
friend Mike McCullough is in charge of this as I am not very techy,
but it has been 3 years since I posted something here.
I mostly update friends and family of my performances and training
and thoughts through facebook and Twitter, although 140 character
bits really aren't as personal as a nice, thought-out blog. I guess
I will start posting here, as many of the 'older' generation don't
have a facebook account so I'm constantly being asked to put
This last weekend was pretty exciting, I won the Pan Am Olympic
Qualifying Event in Florida so I qualified for the Olympic Games in
London this summer! It was especially rewarding because I had to
beat the Cuban to qualify. I have lost to him twice in the past
year, so to avenge those losses at hte same time as qualifying felt
I returned from Florida yesterday, and now will be enjoying the
next couple weeks of rest and off-the-mat exercises to refresh
mentally and physically. I am very excited, the Olympics are 121