Not everybody gets to meet their heroes.
When Lauren Smith met hers, Canadian Olympic wrestling gold medallist Erica Wiebe, Wiebe told Smith exactly what she needed to hear.
After her last match at the National Wrestling Championships in Calgary this month, Wiebe approached Smith and told her to keep wrestling.
“She said I did a really good job. That she thinks I’m going to be a really good wrestler, and that she wants me to continue wrestling,” says Smith.
“It was pretty cool.”
At 16 years old, not only is Smith getting free coaching advice from an Olympic gold medallist wrestler, she is also an alternate wrestler for Team Canada’s Women’s Wrestling team.
So, it seems Smith’s hero is on the right track, or mat, in this case.
Smith returned from the National Wrestling Championships placing second overall for Team Ontario. The St. Theresa's Catholic High School student won three of her four bouts while out west.
“My team did well,” says Smith, enthusiastically. “All my teammates ended up placing.”
Like her hero, Smith started wrestling at a young age, and quickly demonstrated a natural ability to take down her opponents for the top position.
In Grade 9, after starting wrestling three years earlier, Smith travelled to Germany to compete with Team Ontario. Since then, she’s travelled across Canada and competed in the US.
Smith wrestles freestyle, and has tried Greco-Roman wrestling once before. When she wanted to enter a tournament to compete in the Greco-Roman style, there was only one other female opponent, making the competition a one-off.
Smith says that’s because the sport has not historically included a lot of women.
“It’s been male-dominated, because of the physical part of the sport,” says Smith.
“In the states, it’s still very male-dominated, and there’s no women’s wrestling in their colleges or universities, but we’re working on changing that,” says Smith.
Given that Smith has entered into a sport that she has quickly started dominating, it’s not hard to see how the determined teen will make changes like she wins bouts by throwing her weight around.
This summer, Smith will be attending a number of camps in the US to learn new skills and different styles of the sport in preparation for the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games.
Her two favourite moves are the fireman and the high crotch.
In the high crotch, the wrestler switches from a single leg to a high double leg taking down their opponent by lifting one of their opponent’s legs off the mat. In the fireman, like it sounds, the wrestler picks up their opponent and throws them over their shoulder, instead of carrying them away to rescue them, they are literally thrown over the wrestler’s shoulder.
She says she feels a bit like a superhero when she takes down an opponent in those moments when the move feels just right.
After the summer and the upcoming Summer Games, Smith will be working towards another chance to compete at the Team Canada trials to place first or second securing her place as a member of Team Canada’s women’s wrestling team.
Since she’s already been scouted by the women’s wrestling team at Brock University, it seems we’ll be hearing more about this passionate wrestler from St. Theresa’s Catholic High School in Midland.