Wrestling back!

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 deep. 

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 my life. 

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!

Wrestling in the Olympics

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!
Matt Gentry
2x Canadian Olympian

Ethan

Matt Gentry T-Shirts still available!

Hello folks!

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:

sergio

....Acting like a Moose!

Gabe

....Family time!

Grant family

....Cheering on TV!

cheering

 ....Meeting girls, atta a boy Mitko!

Mitko

Even the pets love 'em!

cat

Superfans!

551125_3427245730143_345333660_n

Thanks for the support!

Matt Gentry

Post Olympic Write Up

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 years. 

I guess the most important thing I wanted to convey is the feeling of gratitude that I have. I am very thankful for all the people that have helped me. My coaches, specifically Dave McKay who spent as much time or more away from his family for us athletes, the Canadian Olympic Committee, Canada Amateur Wrestling and others have made my Olympic journey possible. I feel blessed and humbled to have had the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games for Canada, and hundreds if not thousands of people put me in a position where I had the best chance of winning. I am lucky to have had so much support and I don't forget it. 

Down to the competition itself. It has been 15 days and I'm sure I will be thinking about August 10th forever, just like I still dream about Beijing. I was 16-1 in international tournaments in 2012 leading up to the Olympics, beating some very accomplished wrestlers and winning my final 3 international tournaments prior to London. I say this because for me, this was far and away my best international season and I credit that change in performance to my mental state of mind. I overcame a lot of mental hurdles to compete my best this year. I took that momentum into London I am very happy with how I prepared physically and mentally, and I think I peaked and competed extremely well. I finished 5th, and I know that 5th at the Olympics is very impressive. I have been getting multitudes of congratulations and it is much better than my first Olympics. 

However, I didn't go to London to finish 5th. I wanted to bring back a medal for Canada and it is disappointing not to achieve my goal. It hurts, and it hurts worse because I believed, deep down to my core, that I could do it. To be so close to such a big dream and then fall one match short is hard. I am proud, and I do hold my head up, especially with how I prepared and the journey I took preparing, but at the same time I wanted to win badly and in the end I didn't. It is a mixed bag emotionally because I am happy with how I competed, yet disappointed with my finish.

I was asked a few times if I would have added pressure since this was the end of my career and potentially my last major competition. To that the answer is no. In fact, the end of my competitive career in sight actually allowed me to step back and realize how much I love what I do, and how much I am going to miss it. I love wrestling and I love competing, but I especially love the personal challenge and growth that came with pushing myself beyond what I thought was possible. Wrestling is a personal test, it is one person against another, and although the physical factors like technique, strength, stamina, speed play a huge role in success, at the Olympic level so does the mental aspect. Pushing myself to be world class, and to be world class in something is a pretty cool thing. I'm not sure if I will be done, more than likely yes I am finished but I may compete a couple more times depending on what my wife and I decide is best for us. As for what I will be doing, I'm not exactly sure whether I will be back coaching or going back to school. In the near term at least I will be helping out around town with a local club and doing a bit of studying. 

Finally I want to thank those that have sacrificed the most for me. My wife especially has had to deal with me being gone 3 weeks out of a month on the road to follow my dream. Without her support back home, I would not have had this opportunity. Thank you to my family who supported me since I started wrestling at age 6, this has been a lifetime commitment for them as well. However with this support does come something special. The Olympics was a chance for everyone to come together, and for nearly 30 people to travel and share my experiences with me in london is something that I value greatly. 

I've always liked this quote because It kind of sums up how I feel after failing to achieve my goal so I'll end with this:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." 
― Theodore Roosevelt

Sorry so long!
Best,
Matt

 

Olympics FAQ

Hi everyone,

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 25.

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 stars!

Thanks to everyone for making this a special time.  I have been more than adequately supported in my journey.

Matt

Shot of Inspiration

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....

Matt

-------------------

July 1 2012. Happy Canada Day! 

            Soon 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 Hughes.

            A 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 all. 

            What 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 hand.

            With 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)

From Christine…

            I 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...  

            I 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.  

            My 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.  

            Once 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.  

            I 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.  

            Ok, 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.  

            Christine Nesbitt, 2010 Olympic Champion in the 1000m. Since she found             her 'smile' she is World Champion in the 1000m, 1500m and has a silver             in the Team Pursuit.

 

From Clara…

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,

            Clara 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

            Be 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 brilliantly.

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.

Marnie McBean

Three time Olympic Champion - Rowing

-----

Young Geniuses and Old Masters

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!

Much love,
Matt 

YouTube Matches/Interview

Here is a list of my matches and a short interview from the weekend which were uploaded on YouTube.

Quarterfinal vs. Peru

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!
Matt

2x Olympian!!!

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 something up.

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 very good!

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 days away!!!!!

Poor Performance

Well, I am pretty disappointed. I'll keep this brief because I am pretty mad. I lost my first match to a German, I was very lackadaisical in my wrestling and lost out of the clinch, and then 2-2. Had lots of opportunities and didn't take them. I needed to be mentally focused and I wasn't.

I'm reading Good to Great by Jim Collins and he talks about the the Stockdale paradox. Stockdale was a POW in Vietnam for 8 years and did 2 things: Faced reality and also held firmly to his belief that things would work out in the end. I think I need to take those lessons and apply them to my training/wrestling right now.

All 4 of my teammates are in the finals tomorrow, Travis Cross at 84 kg had the best match of the day, he beat the German who was 5th in the Olympics. After the finals in the morning, we travel to Amsterdam where we spend the night before I fly home and get back on Monday night. Probably won't have internet access until then.

Thanks for the messages, I appreciate the support,
Matt