November 16, 2009
Georges St. Pierre said he's going to try to wrestle for Canada in 2012. Competing for your country in the Olympics is an amazing feat, and a worthy goal for a competitor like St. Pierre. There is one problem, though. Canada is already pretty well stocked with wrestlers at 74 kg (163 lbs.), the weight GSP would likely compete at.
Matt Gentry, an NCAA champion for Stanford University, represented Canada at the 2008 Olympics at 74 kg. Now an assistant coach at Stanford, Gentry plans to try for the Olympics again in 2012. He points out that having GSP in the mix could strengthen Canada's delegation, but it isn't easy to get there.
"Evan McDonald is the number one guy in Canada at that weight. If St. Pierre comes in, there's going to be a lot of depth at that weight," Gentry told Cagewriter. "That kind of depth is only going to make our country better. It will make the representative who ends up competing more tested, and they'll have to work harder to earn that spot, which will pay off in the long run."
McDonald wrestled for Canada in the world championships this past September. If GSP were to try to wrestle in the Olympics, he would need to get through both Gentry and McDonald. With such little freestyle wrestling experience, it could be difficult.
"He does have good takedowns, he does have good blast doubles, but it's hard to make the comparison," Gentry said. "But [MMA fighters] stand upright. I've seen those blast doubles, and he's certainly a horse in terms of conditioning, but it is pretty different. It's such a technical sport."
Yes, St. Pierre is very adept at using wrestling during fights. However, there is a huge difference between taking down a striker like Thiago Alves at will and trying to do the same against Buvaisar Saitiev, the Russian gold medalist at GSP's weight class and one of the most dominant wrestlers of the past decade.
Just qualifying your country's weight class for the Olympics is a difficult feat. It requires the wrestler to take a top eight placing at the 2011 World Championships, win their continental championship -- for GSP, it would be the Pan-American Championships -- or win one of the two qualifying tournaments. How hard is that? Only one country, Russia, qualified wrestlers in every weight class for Beijing. Out of eighteen weight classes, Canada qualified ten of them in 2008.
Making Canada's team is also a time-intensive feat. GSP would need to start with the Canadian national championships in 2011 to become part of the ladder of competitors for the Olympic Trials. After that, GSP would need to win the Canadian Olympic Trials, usually held in December of the year before the Olympics. This would tie up GSP for more than a year.
Still, Gentry isn't going to look past St. Pierre if he does try for the Olympics.
"He's a competitor, I'm sure that he'll be tough to beat, no matter what he's competing in."
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