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Canadian wrestlers Steen and Dhesi qualify for upcoming Tokyo Olympics

OTTAWA — Canadian wrestlers Jordie Steen and Amar Dhesi qualified for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics on Sunday following their semifinal victories at the Pan-American Olympic Qualification Tournament.

Steen, from Tecumseh, Ont., defeated Dominica's Luis Miguel Perez Sosa by technical superiority 13-2 in the 97-kilogram semifinal. After going down two early in the match, the 28-year-old used his signature ankle lace attack to storm back to win.

"It's hard to imagine, I kept trying to do it one step at a time, one match at a time, one takedown at a time. I'm so happy," said Steen, who trains at the Montreal Wrestling Club. "It doesn't even feel real. It's been unreal. I don't want to sugarcoat it, getting to the Olympics is a tough, tough road but it feels so good when you finally make it happen."

Dhesi pinned his opponent Charles Merrill of Puerto Rico to secure victory in the 125-kilogram semifinal. The 24-year-old from Surrey, B.C., won his two round-robin matches by technical superiority.

"It means everything. Since I started this sport at five- or six-years old that's all I could dream about. It was a long road, a lot of sacrifices," said Dhesi, who's been living and training in Columbus, Ohio. "It means a lot, not just for me but for my family, my community. I'm not done yet; this is just a step."

The duo joins Erica Wiebe and Danielle Lappage who qualified for the Tokyo Games on Saturday.

The tournament was held without spectators inside the competition venue to reduce the risk of the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Dillon Williams of Toronto made it to the 65-kilogram semifinal, but lost 10-0 to Alejandro Valdes Tobier of Cuba.

There will be a last chance Olympic Qualification Tournament later in the year. It was originally scheduled to run April 30 to May 3 in Sofia, Bulgaria, but has been postponed to the beginning of June.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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