Wrestling with a Dream

Concordia Wrestler Hoping for Olympic Chance

  • David Tremblay (red) hopes to take down his opponent in similar fasion at the Pan-American Games in Flordia later this month. Photo by Monique Smith

  • Photo by Monique Smith

  • Photo by Jarron Childs

  • Photo by Jarron Childs

Weighing in at only 130 lbs, 24-year-old wrestler and Concordia student David Tremblay has a lofty dream much bigger than his 5’5” stature.

On March 23 Tremblay will wrestle in Kissimmee, FL, at the Pan American Olympic games. If he places first or second, he’ll have earned a place in the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

While he may not look like the average wrestler, this featherweight certainly has the dedication, considering he trains three times a day.

One of the top wrestlers at the university level, Tremblay’s won four national medals in the 61 kg division. He’s been part of two Concordia championship teams, but he’s about to wrestle in one of the most important matches of his life.

“I’m very close to realizing my dream. To make it to the Olympics would be amazing,” said Tremblay.

The tournament will follow standard International Federation of Associated Wrestling rules and is split into two days; the first is a weigh-in day where every wrestler’s weight is checked and confirmed for their weight class.

Tremblay says that it’s common for wrestlers to “cut” weight before the weigh-in date.

“I laugh a little when people tell me they want to lose a little here and there,” he said—the most he’s ever lost for a weigh-in date was around 15 lbs.

The second day is competition day. It’s split into three rounds: qualification, elimination and finals. A qualification round will kick off the day, cutting the number of wrestlers down to sixteen.

Then the rest is elimination. Wrestlers bout for three rounds, with the winner of the most rounds eliminating the other wrestler from the competition until finals.

“The first step is to qualify. While you’re there there’s about 22 athletes. It goes with random draw; if you pick a good number, there’s always a chance to medal there,” said Martine Du Grenier, Concordia’s assistant coach and former Olympian.

“He’s still young; it’s going to be his first experience at the Olympics,” said Du Grenier. “The Olympic Games are pretty big, [but] everything is possible. I think, for him, it would be a really good experience and a big motivation to keep going after.”

Born to a wrestling family in Ontario, his father, also named David, used to coach teams in and around Ontario and brought his son to a wrestling tournament at the age of 13 to compete with no training experience. Astonishingly, Tremblay went on to win first place, sparking an interest in the sport that would last a lifetime.

A couple years later Tremblay went on to be Ontario Provincial champion for three years straight under the coaching of his father.

He was then noticed at a Collegial level by Victor Zilberman, who is now his coach at Concordia. According to Tremblay, Victor is the main reason he moved to Montreal.

“If it weren’t for Victor, I wouldn’t be in university,” Tremblay said. “I owe a lot of what I’ve accomplished to him. He believed in me and made me the wrestler that I am today.”

Alongside Tremblay at Concordia is his brother, Noel Tremblay, a rookie this year. An accomplished wrestler in his own weight class, Noel says his brother is the reason he wrestles. When he was younger, Noel once asked his father for a new pair of “shiny” shoes because they’d “help him win.”

“David took me by the shoulder and said that it wasn’t the shoes that made the wrestler but the wrestler wearing the shoes,” Noel said. “For some reason, that has stuck with me to this day.”

While other students may worry about exams, papers and tuition hikes, David Tremblay hits the gym, trains, wins wrestling championships and hands in psychology papers. Tremblay’s confident, not easily bothered, and an organized thinker.

“He an excellent role model,” Du Grenier said. “He shows everybody that everything is possible and hopefully he’ll make it onto the Olympic team this summer.”

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